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JLOC keen to use Lamborghini factory driver in 2023

motorsport.com logo motorsport.com 6/7/2022 Jamie Klein

Team boss Isao Noritake revealed that any member of the Italian manufacturer’s stable could potentially be made available for next year, when the team hopes to run the latest Huracan GT3 Evo 2.

He expressed a particular interest in bringing back Marco Mapelli, who drove for JLOC during the 2018 season, sharing a car with now-Nissan GT500 driver Kazuki Hiramine.

Dennis Lind was also due to drive for JLOC in 2020 before the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic forced him to drop out.

“We’ve been told by Lamborghini, anytime you need good drivers, feel free to ask us,” Noritake told Motorsport.com. “The only one who we can’t have is Mirko Bortolotti, but all the others are available. 

“Marco I think is really well suited to Japan. He’s fast, clever and a really nice guy.”

Mapelli and Hiramine scored two poles together aboard the #88 JLOC car in 2018 © Motorsport.com Mapelli and Hiramine scored two poles together aboard the #88 JLOC car in 2018

Mapelli and Hiramine scored two poles together aboard the #88 JLOC car in 2018

Noritake however was keen to praise his existing driver line-up across JLOC’s two cars, made up of ex-Honda factory drivers Takashi Kogure and Kosuke Matsuura, as well as youngsters Yuya Motojima and Natsu Sakaguchi.

“Of course Kogure, who was a Honda works driver for 15 years, is very fast,” said Noritake. “He can really manoeuvre the car as if it was an extension of his body. “Motojima [who shares the #88 car with Kogure] is very fast too.

“Matsuura raced in IndyCar and is very experienced, and he is helping to bring along Sakaguchi as well, so car #87 is also a good combination.”

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Kogure and Motojima sit 10th in the current GT300 drivers’ standings with a pair of fifth-place finishes in the most recent SUPER GT races at Fuji and Suzuka in the #88 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, 24 points off the championship lead.

Matsuura and Sakaguchi lie 16th with a best finish of eighth in the Okayama opener.

© Motorsport.com  

Noritake is convinced that JLOC can be part of this year’s title fight with Motegi, a traditionally strong track for the Huracan, now back to being the season finale.

“Last year the Subaru was in a different category, but now I think the Balance of Performance is good and we can fight properly,” he said. 

“Also, the combination between us and the Yokohama tyres has improved immensely. It seems they are really understanding our car better and they can provide something to support it, and we finally have enough data to understand this Huracan Evo to perform at our best. 

“Of course we are aiming for the title, but our best track is Motegi, a stop-and-go track, and I think we have the best car for braking. 

“I think we can do well at Motegi, so we want to make sure we’re in the fight for championship before then. It would be good if we could be within 10 points.”

Read Also:Lamborghini team JLOC targeting Le Mans comeback in 2024Remembering Lamborghini's ill-fated last stint at Le Mans

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