Sacha Fenestraz is set for the TOM’S Toyota SUPER GT seat that has been vacated by Nick Cassidy for the 2021 season, Motorsport.com understands.
Fenestraz makes the switch from the #36 TOM’S GR Supra, in which he contested his first season in the GT500 ranks last year alongside Yuhi Sekiguchi, to the sister #37 car.
He will be partnered with Ryo Hirakawa, who was in need of a new teammate following Cassidy’s move to Formula E with Envision Virgin Racing.
Fenestraz’s switch mirrors Cassidy’s move from the #36 car to the #37 in the second year of his SUPER GT career, which yielded the 2017 title with Hirakawa at the first time of asking.
The Franco-Argentine’s place alongside Sekiguchi in the #36 car will go to Sho Tsuboi.
#36 TOM’S Toyota GR Supra: Yuhi Sekiguchi, Sacha Fenestraz
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
It comes against the backdrop of Kenta Yamashita’s anticipated full-time return to SUPER GT and reunion with Kazuya Oshima, with whom he won the 2019 title for Team LeMans.
Yamashita will replace Tsuboi alongside Oshima in the #14 Rookie Racing-entered GR Supra, while Cerumo is poised to stick with veterans Hiroaki Ishiura and Yuji Tachikawa for a seventh season in succession for its primary #38 car.
Ritomo Miyata had been a candidate for a step up to TOM’S in 2021, but Yamashita’s return to SUPER GT and resultant reshuffle means he will remain at Racing Project Bandoh for another season alongside Yuji Kunimoto.
SARD will likewise run an unchanged line-up of Heikki Kovalainen and Yuichi Nakayama.
Toyota is the only GT500 manufacturer yet to announce its 2021 line-ups, with Honda having done so last Friday and Nissan following suit on Monday.
Private testing for 2021 kicks off
Pre-season testing for the 2021 SUPER GT season unofficially began on Tuesday at Fuji Speedway, with 11 GT500 cars in action.
With off-season testing being much more strictly regulated this year, including the cancellation of the traditional pre-season visit to Sepang, this week’s two-day test marks the first running for SUPER GT’s teams and drivers since last November’s Fuji season finale.
Toyota is understood to have five GR Supras in action at the test, while Honda is fielding four NSX-GTs and Nissan is running with two GT-Rs.
The entry for the test comprises the nine Bridgestone-shod GT500 cars, plus an additional Honda test car and a Nissan test car running on Michelins.
Naoki Yamamoto is piloting the freshly rebranded Team Kunimitsu Honda NSX-GT alone this week, as Tadasuke Makino continues his recovery from meningitis.
Likewise, Koudai Tsukakoshi is the only Real Racing driver in action, as Bertrand Baguette is serving a mandatory 14-day quarantine after returning to Japan from his native Belgium.
Fenestraz is also absent, having not yet returned to Japan from Argentina.
Fuji private test teams and drivers:
Honda: #1 Team Kunimitsu (Naoki Yamamoto), #8 ARTA (Tomoki Nojiri, Nirei Fukuzumi), #17 Real Racing (Koudai Tsukakoshi), #99 HRD test car
Toyota: #14 Rookie Racing (Kenta Yamashita, Kazuya Oshima), #36 TOM’S (Yuhi Sekiguchi, Sho Tsuboi), #37 TOM’S (Ryo Hirakawa), #38 Cerumo (Hiroaki Ishiura, Yuji Tachikawa), #39 SARD (Heikki Kovalainen, Yuichi Nakayama).
Nissan: #12 Team Impul (Nobuharu Matsushita, Kazuki Hiramine), #230 NISMO test car
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