Kovalainen finishes fifth on Super GT debut in Japan

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Former Formula 1 driver Heikki Kovalainen made a strong start to his new racing career in the Japanese Super GT series by finishing fifth on debut in the opening round of the 2015 season today.

After spending 2014 in the racing wilderness, Kovalainen confirmed in February that he would be moving to Japan to race in the Super GT championship. The series is one of the most competitive touring car championships in the world.

The one-time grand prix winner is partnering Kohei Hirate in the no. 39 Lexus Team SARD car in 2015, and the duo managed to finish seventh in qualifying on Saturday at Okayama.

In damp conditions in the race on Sunday, Kovalainen and Hirate finished fifth despite having to make an extra stop on most of their rivals after misreading the weather during the race.

The opening round of the season was won by Andrea Calderelli and Ryo Hirakawa in the no. 37 Lexus KeePer TOM’S car, with former GP2 driver Takuya Izawa finishing in second place for Honda.

The next round of the Super GT season takes place at Fuji Speedway in one month’s time.