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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Ex-F1 driver Kovalainen declares retirement from Tremendous GT

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Kovalainen joined Japan’s premier racing class in 2015 after a protracted stint in F1 that included a maiden grand prix victory on the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix with McLaren and in addition a comparatively tough interval behind the grid with Lotus/Caterham.

Driving for the SARD crew as a manufacturing facility Lexus driver, Kovalainen and his team-mate Kohei Hirate gained the GT500 title in solely the Finn’s second season within the class with a victory within the championship decider at Motegi.

Kovalainen would by no means go on to contend for the title once more, with SARD being damage by the swap to the Lexus LC500 in 2017 and ultimately the Toyota Supra final 12 months, however the Finnish driver did add 4 extra wins to his tally in as a few years.

The 2021 season was the Finnish driver’s first since his rookie marketing campaign the place he didn’t bag even a single race victory or a podium, with a pair of fourth locations on the both finish of the 12 months marking his greatest outcomes.

Kovalainen stated his choice to step down from Tremendous GT was primarily because of a want to spend extra time along with his household amid Japan’s strict journey restrictions to curb the unfold of coronavirus.

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“We had the ultimate spherical of the Tremendous GT sequence on Sunday at Fuji, the place I completed fourth,” he stated. “It was a fairly good outcome, it was one of the best outcome for us all season. So it was good to complete the season with a fairly robust race. 

“However on the similar time that was my final race in Tremendous GT. I have been there for seven years and I’ve determined to name it a day within the Tremendous GT sequence.

“I really determined earlier this 12 months once I went to Finland for a few days and stayed with my spouse. I made a decision that it is going to be my final season. 

“There are a few causes for that. Clearly, this season has been robust for us and we’ve not been as aggressive as I would wish to be and we’ve not been in a position to do the outcomes. 


Picture by: Masahide Kamio

“At occasions it has been robust to race within the center or the again of the pack. However that is not the primary cause. 

“The primary cause actually is the coronavirus. The final two years I’ve spent more often than not in Japan because of journey restrictions. The border management in Japan is fairly strict. 

“With a working visa you will get in and get out, however my spouse could not try this. So I used to be compelled to spend time away from my household and my spouse for durations of time and I wasn’t ready to try this once more subsequent 12 months. 

“In order that’s the primary cause for this choice. I wish to thank SARD racing, it has been a very long time. SARD Racing and the entire SARD firm has turn out to be a household to me.”

Kovalainen’s exit opens up a coveted seat alongside Yuichi Nakayama, with Sena Sakaguchi – who took the Finn’s place on the crew for a race when he could not enter Japan because of the pandemic – the main candidate to exchange him at SARD.

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