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Weekly Racing Roundup (2.20.23)

News and notes including Ho-Pin Tung’s return, a new SRO on-site esport series and more…

Image: KCMG

***Ho-Pin Tung will make his racing return this year, driving for KCMG in Japan’s Super Taikyu series. The 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 class winner and overall runner-up will share a Honda NSX GT3 Evo22 with Marchy Lee and team owner Paul Ip, having not driven competitively since 2020. KCMG planned to enter the 2020 Super Taikyu season but the coronavirus pandemic impacted its plans. Edoardo Liberati will join the full-season trio for the 24 Hours of Fuji in May.

***Tung said: “With the world fully opened up again, it’s a pleasure to return to racing with KCMG in Super Taikyu Series. We made out 24 Hours of Le Mans debuts together in 2013 and a decade later we reunite for this new challenge! I’m looking forward to teaming up with Paul and Marchy, and with a strong team behind us we’re aiming to add some more trophies to our cabinets.”

***Yogibo Racing has returned to Super GT after one season in Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS. After working with Drago Corse for its last GT300 campaign in 2021, the team is competing independently with a Honda NSX GT3 Evo22 for Yuyo Iwasawa and Reimei Itou. Yogibo fielded a Ferrari entry in GTWC Asia last year, with Naoki Yokomizo finishing third in the standings.

***Nissan will return to the GTWC Asia grid courtesy of a single-car entry from Runup Sports, which is making its debut in the SRO Motorsports Group series. The team, run by Tomei Sports, is set to contest the four Japan Cup rounds with the Am-class pairing of Masaaki Nishikawa and Atsushi Tanaka. The Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 last appeared in GTWC Asia back in 2018 with KCMG.

***Malaysian venue Sepang International Circuit has joined the Thailand Super Series, which announced its 2023 schedule last week. The GT3 class will race at Buriram (April 20-23), Bangsaen (June 27-July 2), Sepang (Aug. 25-27) and Buriram (Dec. 14-17).

***The Audi Sport Asia Trophy will return for a fourth edition this year. The German manufacturer’s internal regional competition will score privateer drivers competing in Audi GT3, GT4, GT2 and TCR cars. A total prize pot of €100,000 ($107,000 USD) including a winner’s award of €50,000 ($53,500 USD) plus spare parts credit has been laid out.

Photo: Jules Beaumont/SRO

***A second sim racing series will take place in the paddock during Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup rounds. Series organizer SRO Motorsports Group has launched the SRO Esports Sim Pro Series for professional esports drivers. The five-round invitational championship will hold a 60-minute race in the Fanatec Arena, in addition to the established Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series for real-world drivers that scores points toward the GTWC Europe teams’ standings.

***Mapdanda Motorsport has signed Finnish prospect Jesse Salmenautio for the GTWC Europe Sprint Cup season. Salmenautio, who drove for Koiranen Kemppi Motorsport in ADAC Prototype Cup Germany last year, will share a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo with Madpanda team principal Ezequiel Companc.

***Luxembourg-based Racing Experience intends to field at least one of its LMP3-spec Duqueine D08 Nissans in the second season of Prototype Cup Germany. Its first confirmed driver is Wolfgang Payr, who contested the Dakar Rally bikes division last year.

***AF Corse has announced plans for a five-car presence International GT Open with both the new Ferrari 296 GT3 and the outgoing 488 model. The confirmed driver pairings are Alessandro Cozzi/Giorgio Sernagiotto, Marco Pulcini/Eddie Cheever, Gino Foiorne/Andrea Montermini, Laurent de Meeus/Jamie Stanley, and Jean-Claude Saada/Conrad Grunewald who won the 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Am class title.

***Greystone GT, which usually runs McLarens, has added a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo to its Intelligent Money British GT Championship program. Callum MacLeod partnered with last season’s champion Ian Loggie for five races. He will team up with Mike Price, maintaining a pairing that previously raced in the GT Cup series.

***RACE LAB will make its British GT debut with a three-car entry headlined by a pair of McLaren 720S GT3s. The team’s first GT3 entry will be driven by the Pro-Am pairing of Euan Hankey and Lucky Khera, the two-time Ferrari Challenge U.K. champion.

***The RACE LAB squad is also running a McLaren Artura GT4 for Ian Gough and Tom Wrigley. The entry is supported by The Lions Barber Collective, a mental health charity raising awareness of the high rate of suicide among men aged 45 and under in the U.K.

Image: One Motorsport

***A British GT team will run a DTM retro livery on its Mercedes-AMG GT4 this year. One Motorsport’s design honors that of the 1992 Zakspeed Mercedes 190E driven by Kurt Thiim and Roland Asch. After testing the waters at Brands Hatch last season, Ed McDermott and Mikey Broadhurst are set for more races in 2023.

***Manthey Racing received a new Type-992 Porsche 911 GT3 R last Thursday. The German squad is set to announce its programs with the car soon, although Sportscar365 has revealed plans to contest the Nürburgring 24 in partnership with EMA Motorsport.

***Pfaff Motorsports was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame last Wednesday. The team has been racing Porsches for decades, starting out in the Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs Rothmans Porsche Challenge during the 1980s. It is now defending the GTD Pro title in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

***Team owner Chris Pfaff, who was inducted as a Significant Contributor to Canadian racing in 2016, said: “Our collective spirit of continuous improvement and desire to achieve is at its best on track, and we are honored to stand alongside so many great individuals and organizations that have made Canada such a leader in our sport.”

***The theme for this year’s seventh Porsche Rennsport Reunion meeting will be “Icons of Porsche”, celebrating the 75th anniversary of Porsche sports cars. “Icons are at the heart of the Porsche experience, whether they are some the most memorable cars we have put on the track, the legendary drivers who pushed those cars to new limits or the biggest moments in our rich history of motorsports wins,” said Kjell Gruner, President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America.

On this weekend: Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli (Kyalami)

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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