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ARTA to join forces with Mugen for 2023 SUPER GT season

ARTA is set to join forces with fellow Honda SUPER GT team Mugen for the 2023 season, Motorsport.com understands.

#8 ARTA NSX-GT

Multiple sources have indicated that the team led by ex-Formula 1 driver Aguri Suzuki is poised to end its relationship with the Servus Japan organisation that currently operates the #8 NSX-GT in favour of a tie-up with Mugen parent company M-TEC.

It would create a de facto two-car ARTA/Mugen operation, as part of which Mugen’s #16 car would switch from its current Dunlop tyres to Bridgestones.

The looming change comes amid a dismal season for ARTA, which finished runner-up in the GT500 standings last year with Tomoki Nojiri and Nirei Fukuzumi but languishes in 12th in the points ahead of next month’s Motegi finale.

 

Nojiri and Fukuzumi won this year’s shortened Fuji 450km in May but have finished outside of the points in the last three races, with operational issues having again reared their head in the most recent events at Sugo and Autopolis.

Matters have not been helped by a mid-season change of chief engineer from Ryan Dingle, who had been in post since the start of 2020 but is leaving Servus at the end of the season, to veteran Hitoshi Iyoki.

ARTA’s current partnership with Servus - the firm that also operates the Team Goh Super Formula team - dates back 15 years to the end of the team’s three year tie-up with Dome, which yielded the team’s only title in 2007.

The obvious connection between ARTA and Mugen is lead driver Nojiri, who drives for the latter squad in Super Formula and is on the brink of securing a second title this year. Servus also helped run the Mugen Super Formula operation until the end of last season.

When contacted by Motorsport.com for comment, an ARTA spokesperson said that the team was "aware of rumours" regarding a tie-up with Mugen but refused to elaborate further.

 

Mugen’s own SUPER GT team is still searching for its first GT500 win since its return to the category in 2017. A switch from Yokohama to Dunlop tyres last year has not yielded the desired results and its relationship with Dunlop is set to end after this season.

It will leave Dunlop with just one car in the GT500 class, the Nakajima Racing Honda, while Bridgestone is set to return to supplying 10 of the 15 cars in the top division, as well as four of the five NSX-GT teams, as it did in 2015-16.

No more ARTA GT300 car?

As part of its tie-up with Mugen and split from Servus, ARTA also looks set to discontinue its long-running GT300 project for the 2023 season.

ARTA has fielded a Honda NSX GT3 in the lower division since 2019, winning that year’s title with Shinichi Takagi and Nirei Fukuzumi, but has a long history of running different cars in the class, including the exotic ASL Garaiya, Honda CR-Z and BMW M6 GT3.

 

This year the Bridgestone-shod #55 ARTA NSX is being shared by Hideki Mutoh and Iori Kimura, but a series of incidents and misfortunes have left the pair 21st in the standings with one race remaining.

ARTA’s looming withdrawal from the GT300 class appears unlikely to affect the plans of Team UpGarage, which also runs a NSX GT3 with support from Servus.

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