Saitama Toyopet’s Kohta Kawaai to miss Suzuka race

Kawaai’s place aboard the team’s #52 GT300-class Toyota GR Supra GT300 alongside Hiroki Yoshida will be taken by series veteran Taku Bamba, who will be making his first SUPER GT start since 2018.

A team statement said Kawaai is currently recovering at home and other team members’ PCR tests were negative.

Kawaai, a Japanese Formula 4 graduate, made his SUPER GT debut last year for the Saitama Toyopet team, taking two wins alongside Yoshida to finish second in the GT300 drivers’ standings behind Kondo Racing Nissan duo Joao Paulo of Oliveira and Kiyoto Fujinami.

The duo currently sit third in this year’s standings after three races with two third places at Okayama and Motegi.

Bamba, 39, meanwhile returns to the team he raced full-time for in 2017 and 2018 before being replaced for 2019 by Yoshida. Before that, he was GT300 champion in 2011 with the Goodsmile Racing team.

Due to his absence from the series, Bamba will have to pass SUPER GT’s “rookie test” in Saturday’s free practice session, which essentially means completing 10 consecutive laps at a particular speed.

Yoshida and Bamba enter this weekend’s race with 66kg of winning weight, thanks to the team’s 22 points so far.

The two crews who jointly lead the classification, Naoya Gamou/Togo Suganami (LEON Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) and Katsuyuki Hiranaka/Hironobu Yasuda (Gainer Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3) both carry 75 kg of additional weight.

UPDATE: K-Tunes Racing has announced that Hibiki Taira will not race at Suzuka this weekend due to health issues, and that his place in the team’s Lexus RC F GT3 will be taken by Kazuto Kotaka.

#96 K-tunes RC F GT3

#96 K-tunes RC F GT3

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Super Formula KCMG regular Kotaka will make his second GT300 appearance of the season after racing for the Inging/Cars Tokai Lotus team in May’s Fuji 500km as third driver.

Taira replaced K-Tunes regular Sena Sakaguchi – who replaces absentee Sacha Fenestraz in TOM’S GT500 lineup – since the start of the season alongside Morio Nitta, with the pair scoring their best result of the year so far. here. sixth in Okayama’s season opener.

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