The last samurai
Since 2021, Formula 1 has re-embraced the passion and talent of a Japanese driver on the grid, welcoming the young Yuki Tsunoda to the AlphaTauri team, who is competing in his third season in the Circus this year. But before him Kamui Kobayashi was the last to make the hearts of Rising Sun fans beat faster in the premier category of motorsport, engaged from 2009 to 2014 – with a ‘hole’ in 2013 – at the wheel of Toyota, Sauber and finally Catheram. The very fast class of ’86 from Amagasaki remains to this day the last Japanese to have conquered a podium in F1finishing third at Suzuka, with Sauber, in the 2012 vintage.
Star in the WEC
After leaving the Circus, Kobayashi built himself a career as a true legend in endurance racing. In fact, in endurance the 36-year-old Toyota driver brought home two WEC world titles, a victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and two successes at the 24 Hours of Daytona. An enviable palmares within a multifaceted career that will live the next, very interesting chapter right in the United States. Kobayashi indeed officially announced that will take part in a NASCAR Cup Series racethe premier category of American motorsport, running on the Indianapolis track on August 13th.
— 23XI Racing (@23XIRacing) June 7, 2023
The track used will not be the legendary oval of the 500 miles, but the internal road course, which over the years has hosted F1 and IndyCar. Kobayashi will run with one Toyota Camry of team 23XIwhich also has basketball legend Michael Jordan among its owners, and will drive car #67, which this year had already been used at the start of the season as the team’s third car and welcoming Travis Pastrana at the wheel in the Daytona 500.
More and more attractive championship
The intriguing adventure of the Japanese pilot bears witness to a growing interest former F1 protagonists for the NASCAR championship. In fact, in the last year we have also seen Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button involved in the Cup Series, with the latter returning to the track for the Chicago city race on 2 July. Without forgetting that another legend of endurance, Jordan Taylor, had also raced this year in the Cup Series in the Austin race.
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