The FIA World Endurance Championship will have a few extra local drivers on the starting grid, when the 6-hour race will be run this weekend.
Amongst the 36 competing cars, there are a total of 8 Japanese drivers on the entry list.
It’s no surprise that Kamui Kobayashi and Ryo Hirakawa participate for Toyota Gazoo Racing in the Hypercar category, like they have done all year long.
D’Station Racing Aston Martin #777 is once again competing in the GTE Am kategory with Satoshi Hoshino and Tomonobu Fujii alongside British racer Casper Stevenson, like they have done for all races so far.
Kessel Racing Ferrari #54 with Takeshi Kimura and Scott Huffaker are also back, but they will be joined by local boy Ritomo Miyata. The 24-year-old driver is currently leading the Super Formula championship in Japan, as well as sitting second in the Super GT standings. He is replacing Daniel Serra, who skips this race.
There will be two Japanese drivers in the AF Corse Ferrari #21 too. Simon Mann will continue in the car, like he has done for the five rounds so far in the 2023 season. Italian-Japanese Kei Cozzolino will bring his Michelin Le Mans Cup teammate Hiroshi Koizumi into a GTE Am car – a huge step up from their GT3 car. Cozzoline has been good at bringing Japanese drivers into sportscar racing, just like he did with Takeshi Kimura, after letting him go a couple of year ago. He was sharing a car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans with two other Japanese drivers, that we have neither seen before or after.
Other than the local drivers, there is another change in another car. Prema Racing #63 have Andrea Caldarelli back once again. The Italian has been a bit in and out of the LMP2 car this year, being replacement for Mirko Bortolotti. His fellow Italian will be focusing on the DTM championship in Germany, which he currently leads. Caldarelli will be sharing the car with Doriane Pin og Daniil Kvyat.
The FIA World Endurance Championship race at Fuji International Speedway will run on Sunday morning at 04.00 CET.