Japanese youngster Rikuto Kobayashi, runner-up in the 2023 Gran Turismo World Series Nations Cup, will be driving in the 2024 Super GT Championship, having been selected for a seat in the GT300 category.
It’s the latest step in the motorsport career of the 18-year old, who burst onto the global Gran Turismo scene in 2021 as part of the Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup — courtesy of the lower entry age — where he finished third overall.
That should be little surprise, as he’s been part of the real-world Toyota Gazoo Racing Driver Challenge Program for just as long. In 2022, his debut season, he finished sixth in the F4 Japanese Championship with one win at Motegi, and went on to take the title in 2023.
Indeed it was a busy 2023 for Kobayashi, who also participated in a special “WEC Challenge Program” training session with Toyota at Le Mans, to experience how the team’s drivers and engineers take on the world’s most famous endurance race.
Toyota has elected to take Kobayashi up to the GT300 category of Super GT as part of the apr Racing squad for 2024. There he’ll drive the #30 GR86 GT alongside Hiroaki Nagai and, for the endurance rounds, two-time champion Manabu Orido.
That will also place Kobayashi in direct competition with fellow GT World Series driver Igor Fraga who returns to the Anest Iwata Racing with Arnage team in the #50 RC-F GT3 this season.
Fraga and Kobayashi may well be in competition elsewhere too, as the teenager will also join up with the Tom’s squad for the Super Formula Lights — although it remains to be seen whether Fraga will compete again in the championship in which he finished fourth in 2023 or move up to the main category.
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