By: Jamie Klein
Former Rebellion LMP1 driver Mathias Beche says he sees his long term future in SUPER GT after making his belated debut in the Japanese series.
Beche, 34, joined Sean Walkinshaw in the Team Thailand Lexus RC F GT3 for last month's Suzuka round, the pair finishing 19th in the 29-car GT300 field.
He and Walkinshaw were forced to sit out the opening five races of the 2020 season before loosening travel restrictions in Japan finally allowed them to take up their seats for the final three races of the year at Suzuka, Motegi and Fuji Speedway.
The Swiss driver hopes his debut is the start of a long spell racing in SUPER GT, during which time he hopes to progress to the senior GT500 division.
“I’d been looking at it for many years,” Beche told Motorsport.com on how the opportunity came up to race in SUPER GT. “Last year I came to the last event [at Motegi] and discussed with a few teams, we kept in contact and the best offer I got was here.
“GT500 is the target, but it’s such a special championship, you have to start from the basics, which is GT300. I’m really happy the team gave me the confidence to do it.
“There is a lot of learning to do, I don’t know the tracks, I only drove the car once [before Suzuka, in the Okayama pre-season test], I’m not a GT3 specialist either. But if I’m here and if I have this kind of involvement, it’s for the long term.
“It’s a big pleasure and an honour to be here. At the moment in Europe the situation is complicated, everyone is bringing budget. But here if you are competitive, there is space.”
Beche has spent most of the past decade racing prototype machinery, winning the LMP2 European Le Mans Series crown in 2012 and graduating to the LMP1 ranks with Rebellion Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship the following year.
Barring a 2016 season in which he returned to the ELMS, he stayed with Rebellion until early 2019, and took an overall podium in the Le Mans 24 Hours with the team in 2018.
“I know I would be more competitive in a GT500, because it’s more like a prototype to drive,” said Beche. “GT3 is very different, but it’s good to learn the tracks, about the tyres and a lot of things specific to this championship. By being here I’m learning a lot.”
Team Thailand has yet to score a point in the GT300 category so far this year, missing the opening round of the season at Fuji and then picking up a best finish of 15th at the August Suzuka race with replacement drivers Masahiro Sasaki and Yuui Tsutsumi.
“Points would be a good thing, but we have to be realistic,” said Beche when asked about his targets for the remaining races of the season. “The team has not been so competitive this year, so it’s hard to predict.
“We have to give our best and just see what the result is. It’s a bit basic but it’s the reality.”