Want to see real production-based racing machinery duking it out on the track? Check out touring cars. And not just the World Touring Car Championship, either – we’re talking about the local stuff that brings in the fans, like Australia’s Supercars series, Germany’s DTM, or Japan’s Super GT championship.
The latter boasts some of the best racing action around, especially in the top GT500 class where Toyota, Honda, and Nissan go at it for top honors on their home turf. So with Japan’s three largest automakers involved, who’s been coming out on top?
Toyota, without a doubt. The Lexus LC 500 it developed for the series won every race so far this up until the last one, which is when Lexus Enthusiast brought it to our attention. This past weekend the ARTA team dominated the action at Fuji Speedway, taking pole position and winning the race with its Honda NSX in GT500 (and doing the same with its BMW M6 GT3 in the lower GT300 category). A Nissan GT-R finished second, while LC500s came in third, fourth, sixth, seventh, ninth, and tenth.
Still, with four wins out of five rounds so far this season and only three races left to go, Toyota/Lexus is in a very good position to claim the crown. There’s no official manufacturers’ standings, but the top three teams in the rankings are all running Lexus machinery, as are the top four drivers (or driver pairings) – with British driver James Rossiter (the defending champion and one of the few gaijin in the series) leading the way. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Lexus is fielding more cars in the series than any of its rivals, but not by much: the GT500 field this season is composed of six LC 500s, five Honda NSX-GTs, and four Nissan GT-Rs.
The field is much more varied at the GT300 level, which has been opened up to all FIA-certified GT3 competitors. There you’ll see competition-spec versions of the Nissan GT-R, Subaru BRZ, Toyota 86, Toyota Mark X, Toyota Prius (yes, the Toyota Prius), and Lexus RC F dicing it with European competitors like the Audi R8, Mercedes-AMG GT, BMW M6, Porsche 911, Lotus Evora, Bentley Continental, Lamborghini Huracan, and Ferrari 488. Currently the Goodsmile Racing & TeamUKYO pairing of Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka lead the category in their Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Last year, the world’s largest automaker took top honors in both categories, with a Lexus RC F winning in GT500 and a Toyota 86 taking the GT300 crown. The year before that, Nissan dominated with versions of the GT-R in both classes.