Kovalainen joins ex-F1 driver Hakkinen on Suzuka 10 Hours grid – GT

Heikki Kovalainen will join fellow ex-McLaren Formula 1 driver Mika Hakkinen competing in the Suzuka 10 Hours, driving a Ferrari 488 GT3.

Kovalainen will share HubAuto’s #27 Ferrari with fellow Super GT champion Nick Cassidy and team regular Nick Foster on August 23-25.

Meanwhile double F1 champion Hakkinen is making his first international racing start since 2011, and will partner Katsuaki Kubota and Hiroaki Ishiura in a McLaren 720S run by a yet-to-be-confirmed team.

Taiwanese entrant HubAuto is one of three teams nominated to score Intercontinental GT Challenge points for Ferrari at Suzuka, alongside ARN Racing and CarGuy Racing.

“This is a major coup for the HubAuto team,” commented technical director Phillip di Fazio.

“I’ve lots of experience working alongside Heikki and Nick.

“We have a strong driver line-up with pedigree and experience. Coupled with a good car we are aiming for nothing less than a win.”

This year Kovalainen is contesting Super GT – which he was champion of in 2016 – with the Sard Lexus team alongside Yuichi Nakayama, the pair lying ninth in the standings after last weekend’s Fuji 500-mile race.

Cassidy races against Kovalainen in Super GT, and is currently second in the standings of the series he was champion of in 2017. This year he races alongside Ryo Hirakawa in a TOMS Lexus.

But the New Zealander – who is also second in the Super Formula championship – is no stranger to the HubAuto team, taking part in last month’s Spa 24 Hours alongside Foster and Daniel Serra.

Cassidy ultimately did not get to drive in the race as the car was eliminated by a crash for Foster in the second hour.

Reigning DTM champion and Formula E driver Gary Paffett is among the notable entrants for the event in a Strakka Mercedes, as well as Toyota World Endurance Championship regular and ex-Formula 1 driver Kamui Kobayashi, also in a Mercedes.

Last year the event was won by the Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing car of Maro Engel, Raffaele Marciello and Tristan Vautier.

After three events, Mercedes pair Maxi Buhk and Maxi Goetz lead the IGTC standings, with two events including Suzuka remaining.

The last event of the season is a trip to the redeveloped Kyalami circuit.

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