Last weekend’s inaugural Super GT x DTM Dream Race at Fuji Speedway could lead to further joint events in the future, after having been hailed as a success by all involved.
Following the participation of three cars from the Japanese series in the DTM season finale at Hockenheim in October, the event in Japan saw seven DTM cars up against Super GT’s full field of 15 GT500 cars.
With victories for KeePer Team Lexus driver Nick Cassidy in Race 1 and a win for Narain Karthikeyan in the Motul Honda on Sunday, Super GT drivers came out on top in both races.
However, DTM cars were quite competitive, with all bar Alex Zanardi’s BMW finishing in the top-ten after miraculously avoiding the mayhem on the final lap that, among others, that took out earlier front-runners Kazuki Nakajima, Hiroaki Ishiura and Koudai Tsukakoshi.
No crowd figures were issued, but well over half of the grandstand seats appeared to be filled, in spite of it being Super GT’s third visit to Fuji this year already.
Gerhard Berger, chairman of DTM organizer ITR, underlined the historic significance of the event that finally saw Super GT and DTM cars racing together in Japan, more than six years after the initial announcement was made at the Norisring in July 2013.
“When I walked out on to the Fuji grid before Saturday’s very first Dream Race, the realization of what ourselves and GTA had achieved really struck me,” Berger said.
“Seeing five world-class manufacturers on the grid, understanding that we had brought two racing worlds together – after seven years’ hard work – was quite an emotional moment.
“Furthermore, I could also see that the unification of our two series is clearly the right idea for us. We are heading in the right direction with this common approach.
“Of course, there’s lots more work to do – but I hope we can learn from this weekend, take our experiences home, work out how to improve, and keep continuing along this path. I see a big future in this kind of racing.”
His Japanese counterpart, GTA chairman Masaaki Bandoh, spoke about the possibility to stage joint races in other countries than Japan and Germany as well.
“We now have to analyse this weekend and discuss how to proceed,” he said.
“I hope for more of such joint events of Super GT and DTM to take place, be it in Japan, in Germany or maybe also at other venues, to showcase this type of racing to the fans worldwide.”
DTM manufacturers Audi and BMW drew a positive verdict after the weekend as well.
“This clearly is the way for the DTM to go forward and to widen its international scope,” Dieter Gass, head of Audi Sport, commented.
BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt added: “For us, internationalization always has been one of the key factors of our participation in the DTM, so the more opportunities there are to race these cars in series around the world, the better it is.”