Felix Rosenqvist will be back on Japanese racing soil in 2018, exchanging the Super Formula single-seater series for an attack on the country’s top-flight Super GT championship.
Rosenqvist has extended his contract with Team LeMans, the squad for which he raced in Super Formula last year, but is stepping across to its parallel Super GT effort in a joint venture with Lexus/Toyota.
Super GT is Japan’s leading motor racing series, featuring entries from premium car manufacturers including Lexus, Nissan, Honda, Ferrari and Lamborghini. Races are run across varying distances of between 250-800 km, with two drivers sharing driving duties and trading stints at compulsory pit stops.
Rosenqvist is set to pair up with Kazuya Oshima (Japan), who drove the second Team LeMans car in Super Formula last season.
“This is an exciting step for me,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “Super GT is the number one racing series in Japan, with committed programmes from all the local manufacturers. It’s hugely competitive. For that reason, I’m particularly pleased to set out on this with Team LeMans and Kazuya. They are my reference point in Japan and I think that kind of continuity will be very helpful this season, with so many new things to learn once again.”
The cars in use in the championship are the fastest GT-spec machines in the world. Rosenqvist recently enjoyed his first taste of the Lexus LC 500, which he will race in the top-tier GT500 category this season, at a snow-affected and shortened test at Fuji Speedway.
“I drove the car a few weeks ago, and I can honestly say that I’ve never been more impressed,” Rosenqvist declares. “The performance is remarkable for this kind of car, six-seven seconds faster than DTM and just a few seconds slower than Super Formula, which in itself is a highly impressive single-seater. I was shocked, to tell the truth! This is going to be a real challenge, but I’m already looking forward to it a lot.”
Rosenqvist experienced his first season of Japanese racing in 2017, claiming third in the Super Formula standings during a successful rookie year.
The 26-year-old Swede will once again dovetail his Japanese programme with his commitments for Mahindra Racing in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, in which he currently sits second overall. The two calendars contain just one date clash, with the third Super GT round at Suzuka on May 19-20 taking place on the same weekend as the Formula E Berlin E-Prix. Rosenqvist will race in Formula E on this occasion.
The 2018 Super GT campaign comprises eight races (Rosenqvist will thus contest seven), starting off with the Okayama 300 km on April 7-8. The finale takes place at Twin Ring Motegi on November 10-11.
Among Rosenqvist’s rivals on the grid will be 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button, as well as ex-Grand Prix winner Heikki Kovalainen.