Former F1 driver and Grand Prix winner Heikki Kovalainen has just won the championship in Japan’s premier racing category, Super GT. It’s his first championship win since he won the World Series by Nissan in 2004.
Kovalainen (in his second Super GT season) races a Lexus RC F in the GT500 category with experienced co-driver and now-double champion Kohei Hirate.
The cars themselves are pretty badass – think DTM cars on steroids – and are almost as fast as LMP1 cars around the Fuji circuit. During the races they have to deal with traffic from the slower GT300 class, which features GT3 cars and Japan’s own JAF-GT category. This is incredibly diverse and is home to the coolest looking Toyota Prius you’ll ever see.
Kovalainen and Hirate wrapped up the title in fine style with a win in the final race at Twin Ring Motegi and were presented with a big basket full of rice (because Japan). Funnily enough it was also Heikki’s first win in the championship and the team’s first win in over four years.
He isn’t the first F1 driver to win the Super GT crown – former Jordan driver Ralph Firman did so back in 2007, and in 1997 Pedro de la Rosa won the title, two years before he made his F1 debut with Arrows. Ralf Schumacher came close to the championship in 1996 as well.
It’s also been heavily rumoured that Jenson Button will also be racing in Super GT next year during his honestly-not-retirement from Formula 1. It’s a great championship and well worth a watch – all races are broadcast live on YouTube, and you can catch up with the final round here.