How the 2022 SUPER GT silly season is shaping up


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Most of this year’s silly season speculation has centered around Toyota, which is perhaps not a great surprise given it has six GR Supras on the grid and therefore 12 seats to fill, and no shortage of drivers from which to choose. 

Of the six crews, the only one looking near-certain to continue unchanged is the #14 Rookie Racing line-up of Kenta Yamashita and Kazuya Oshima, the 2019 champions who were reunited at the start of the season following Yamashita’s year (mostly) away from the series. 

It’s possible however that all four remaining Toyota teams – TOM’S, Cerumo, Racing Project Bandoh and SARD – could see changes. 

The most likely to change is the two-car TOM’S stable, but there much depends on Ryo Hirakawa’s future and whether he joins the Toyota FIA World Endurance Championship line-up for 2022. While there’s been no definitive word just yet, if it does happen then Hirakawa would probably exit SUPER GT altogether, leaving a coveted open spot in the #37 line-up. 

Sena Sakaguchi impressed in five races as Sacha Fenestraz’s stand-in this season, but it’s thought unlikely he would make the step directly up to TOM’S full-time. The two most likely candidates to join Fenestraz instead are Kazuki Nakajima, should his services no longer be needed by Toyota in the WEC, and Ritomo Miyata, who is ready to make the switch from the Bandoh squad.  

While Miyata has demonstrated his speed time and again on the Yokohama tyres, he and Fenestraz would make one of the youngest line-ups in the field, and if Hirakawa does leave then TOM’S may prefer to draw upon the considerable experience of Nakajima to anchor the #37 machine.

Over at Cerumo, it’s unclear whether Yuji Tachikawa, now 46, will continue for another season. Last weekend’s Autopolis round aside, it’s been another tough campaign for he and Hiroaki Ishiura in the #38 car, and given Tachikawa’s advancing years, speculation about his future is likely to persist right up until the three-time GT500 champion does finally call time on a glittering career.

 

Should Tachikawa indeed call it quits after this year, Miyata could be installed alongside Ishiura at Cerumo, but another option would be to pluck Sho Tsuboi from TOM’S and place Miyata with Yuhi Sekiguchi in the au-branded #36 car – which would mean both Tsuboi and Miyata working with their current Super Formula teams. 

Meanwhile, at SARD, Yuichi Nakayama’s place appears to be secure enough, but teammate Heikki Kovalainen is enduring one of his tougher SUPER GT campaigns, which could make the now-40-year-old Finnish ex-Formula 1 driver a doubt for 2022. 

Kovalainen insists however that no discussions have been held with Toyota yet about next year yet, and it still remains possible that both parties could elect to continue for another season, which would most likely mean an unchanged line-up in the #39 machine. 

Finally, there’s Racing Project Bandoh. Yuji Kunimoto is likely to stay, but…



Read More: How the 2022 SUPER GT silly season is shaping up 2021-10-28 04:40:27

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