D'station eyeing long-term WEC stay, SUPER GT return
D'station Racing is targeting a long-term stay in the FIA World Endurance Championship after tackling the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time last month, and is also evaluating a return to SUPER GT.
Having been present in Japan's SUPER GT and Super Taikyu series for a number of years, D'station branched out into international motorsport for the first time in 2021, entering the Asian Le Mans Series and then securing a full-time entry in the WEC in association with TF Sport.
D'station owner/driver Satoshi Hoshino was joined by his long-time collaborator Tomonobu Fujii and Andrew Watson at the wheel of the #777 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 for the team's first attempt at Le Mans in August, the trio finishing sixth in the GTE Am category.
But, far from being content with that result, Fujii - who is also acts as the team's managing director - says D'station's sights are set on becoming the first Japanese entrant to triumph in the GT ranks at La Sarthe since the Taisan Porsche squad achieved the feat in 2000.
"We hope to stay in the WEC for another season, and if possible longer, because it’s a really good stage for us," Fujii told Motorsport.com. "It’s the highest level Pro-Am racing in the world, which is good for Hoshino-san and D’station Racing. So we would like to stay for a few more years if possible.
"We got P6 in our first experience at Le Mans, and we learned a lot, so for next year we know we have to improve many things. Next year we want to challenge for a podium, and our eventual aim is to win the race.
"And with the [future] switch to GT3 cars, it means even more competitors and manufacturers will be part of this race. So we definitely want to stay in the WEC, this is our biggest priority."
Prior to joining the WEC, D'station spent two years campaigning a Vantage GT3 in SUPER GT, but following a split with partner team Pacific Racing, it was unable to secure an entry for 2021.
However, Fujii says that a return to the championship is very much on the radar for D'station after wrapping up the title in the second-tier Super Taikyu series with a round to spare last weekend at Suzuka.
"We hope to come back to SUPER GT," said Fujii. "At this moment I'm not sure [about a return as soon as 2022], but it’s the biggest championship in Japan, so we hope to come back in the future.
"We started the programme with Aston Martin in 2019, and that year it was supposed to be Darren Turner [partnering Fujii], and last year it was Nicki Thiim before the coronavirus situation.
"Now the situation is different and it’s difficult for European drivers to come to Japan, but in the future we would like to talk to Aston Martin Racing [about using a factory driver], to have the strongest possible package."
D'station is also branching out into single-seater racing for the first time with a one-off entry in this weekend's round of the Formula Regional Japanese championship at Fuji Speedway.
Japanese youngster Ryunosuke Sawa was selected from among 144 applicants to drive the team's entry, which Fujii says is likely to be a precursor to a full-season entry in the series in 2022.
"We have two Formula Regional cars, and next year we hope to do the full season in Formula Regional," said Fujii. "It’s a one-make championship and the costs are fairly reasonable. Many young drivers want to earn FIA superlicence points, so we are interested in this championship.
"We plan to run two cars next year, but we could potentially buy more, as the car is relatively cheap.
"We don’t want to say it’s a driver development programmme, but if we have a good driver joining this project, then they have the chance to join us in Super Taikyu, SUPER GT or WEC in future. This is normal."
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