Nirei Fukuzumi set for Toyota move

Fukuzumi, a GT500 title contender this season driving for Honda squad ARTA, appears set to partner Kazuya Oshima at Rookie Racing, taking the place of Kenta Yamashita.

It follows Monday’s news that Ritomo Miyata will depart SUPER GT in favour of a programme in Formula 2 and the European Le Mans Series, with Yamashita in line to take over Miyata’s seat alongside Sho Tsuboi in the championship-winning #36 TOM’S car.

Fukuzumi, 29, follows Ukyo Sasahara in making the move to Toyota, albeit after a longer relationship with Honda, having been part of the Sakura marque since 2014.

He spent three seasons racing in Europe as a Honda protege, competing in GP3 in 2016-17 and Formula 2 in 2018, before returning to Japan in 2019 to contest Super Formula.

The same year, he joined SUPER GT in the GT300 class, winning the title with ARTA alongside Shinichi Takagi before stepping up to the team’s GT500 squad in 2020.

Fukuzumi spent three seasons paired with Tomoki Nojiri, with the pair finishing as runners up in 2021, before the former was joined by Hiroki Otsu this season as part of ARTA’s expansion to a second Honda NSX-GT.

Honda is understood to have placed Nobuharu Matsushita at ARTA for the 2024 season as a replacement for Fukuzumi, although exact driver combinations are still uncertain.

Kakunoshin Ohta meanwhile is in line to step up to Real Racing to join Koudai Tsukakoshi after an impressive rookie season at Nakajima Racing.

The Dunlop-shod Nakajima squad appears likely to welcome Nissan GT300 racer Riki Okusa as a team-mate to veteran Takuya Izawa for 2024.

ARTA may still need a second new driver for 2024 as Toshiki Oyu’s future at Honda also remains far from certain after a turbulent season in both SUPER GT and Super Formula.

Toyota still has one more place to fill in its GT500 roster as Yuji Tachikawa bows out of SUPER GT, and is known to favour experienced drivers.

It remains to be seen whether Fukuzumi’s tie-up with Toyota will also land him a seat in Super Formula, but reigning champion Miyata’s unexpected departure opens up a plum seat at TOM’S and could lead to a wider reshuffle of the marque’s roster.

Impul and KCMG are the other Toyota teams whose line-ups appear uncertain for 2024, with Theo Pourchaire known to have held talks with both teams for next season.

Super Formula teams have until the end of this month to finalise their line-ups for the post-season test at Suzuka that takes place on December 6-8, with an announcement expected a few days prior to the test.

Read Also:

Source link