The JGTC (Japan GT Championship) started in 1994 and it laid the foundation for what was to become Japan’s top racing category, Super GT.
One of the cars that received particular attention in Japan’s rich racing history was this Ferrari F40 with team Taisan Star Card.
At the time, the Italian GT Championship saw European dream cars such as the Porsche 964 Carrera RS and the Jaguar XJ220 line-up against each other. But when Yasutsune Chiba, the head of Team Taisan, came across an article in a magazine about how the F40 was dominating in Europe, he couldn’t help but dream of the F40 racing around Japanese circuits.
Chiba immediately bought an F40 and showed it off at the Fuji Speedway for the opening round of the JGTC season. The red body-coloured supercar was, of course, the talk of the race fans and drew a lot of attention. At the time, however, F40 racing parts were hard to come by and the car had to be driven in a virtually stock configuration. Despite its reputation, the F40 struggled to keep up with the other teams, who had built their cars with a wealth of experience.
However, for Chiba, running the F40 in a Japanese race series meant a lot to him and he refused to give up, improving the car race by race. This gradually paid off and they took pole position at the 4th round in Sugo. The team then brought in Oscar Larrauri, a former Italian GT Championship driver, to drive the car and team to victory.
In 1994, in the final race of the season, held at the Mine Circuit, the F40 made a spectacular start and took the lead, but the 962C, also from Team Taisan, was following closely. A fierce battle ensued between the two cars, but in the end the F40 took the chequered flag in 1st place.
They ended the 1994 season on a strong note but the following season however, the F40 was unable to perform to its full potential due to the full scale support for Japanese works cars and the introduction of new regulations. As a result, the F40’s victory at Mine in 1994 was its first and last one in JGTC.
But the spectacle of this beautiful car speeding around a Japanese circuit, made possible by the enthusiasm of Team Taisan, has left a lasting impression on many race fans and became a legend that will live on forever.
Mileage: 13,876 kilometers