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HIGHSPEED Etoile Racing formed, hopes to support women racers – The Checkered Flag

As the premiere of the HIGHSPEED Étoile Racing anime looms, the project will also bring its presence to real-life race tracks in 2024 in the form of HIGHSPEED Étoile Racing run by Platinum Factory Co., Ltd. The team hopes to develop and support female drivers, which will be reflected in their inaugural lineup of Kotomi Maeda and Ai Shimizu. Kohta Kawaai, the 2023 Super GT champion in the GT300 class, will serve as team director.

Development of the team began last fall before scouting drivers. Platinum Factory CEO Ryūtarō Nakagawa explained, “We not only want to create opportunities for women to play an active role, but we also want to create an environment where drivers can grow alongside the anime characters.”

Maeda and Shimizu will mainly compete in the all-women Kyojo Cup and co-ed Fuji Champion Race. Both series exclusively race Vita-01 cars at Fuji Speedway, mainly on the same weekend; they will begin their 2024 seasons together on 11/12 May, though the FCR is four rounds long while the Kyojo Cup spans six events. HSE Racing’s Vita-01 was revealed Tuesday, featuring protagonist Rin Rindoh and Kanata Asakawa on both sides of the livery. Fuji Speedway, albeit a futuristic rendition, is one of seven actual circuits that will appear in the show.

The team also plans to field electric cars in the All Japan EV-GP Series and All Japan Karting Championship‘s EV division. Their début will come at Tsukuba Circuit with the All Japan EV-GP Series on 27 April. The All Japan Karting Championship season begins at City Circuit Tokyo Bay on 2 June.

Maeda, who works at a car dealership, began kart Racing when she was 21 years old. Shimizu was previously a track and field sprinter who became a truck driver.

Kawaai finished third in the 2019 F4 Japanese Championship before moving to Super GT, where he raced a Toyota GR Supra in the GT300 category for Green Brave. After placing runner-up in the 2020 standings, he and Hiroki Yoshida won the 2023 title with a pair of race wins at Sportsland Sugo and Autopolis. Seita Nonaka replaced Kawaai at Green Brave for the 2024 season, and Kawaai plans to compete in the higher GT500 division as a reserve or in Super Formula.

HIGHSPEED Étoile was created in 2022 as a multimedia project to celebrate Super Formula’s fiftieth anniversary. The anime’s pilot episode will air on 5 April.

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