Sunshine Motorsports, known from 2013 to 2014 as Sunshine Infiniti, and from 2015 as Sunshine Daihatsu (both for sponsorship reasons) is a Portuguese-owned Japanese racing team based in Coffs Harbour, Australia and is currently taking part in the Formula 1 Rejects World Race Series. Created by Japanese driver Barii Mori, Sunshine became based in Australia after taking over the Australian Minardi team in 2013 which had been run by Paul Stoddart and Dave Simpson since 2011. Despite being formed by Mori, most of the team's existence has been under Nissan ownership, prior to the outfit being purchased by the Portuguese DPT Asset Management firm in late 2014, with the support of another car maker, this time Daihatsu. For the 2015 season of the F1RWRS, Daniel Martins and James Davies are the team's drivers.
The Sunshine name was originally used in the F1RLFS (now Rejects of LFS) by the Kamaha. In the 2011 season, Kamaha owner Barii Mori was one of the first owners to take a punt at the new series, operating under the guise of Sunshine Motorsport with himself and hereunto unknown Japanese rookie Shinobu Katayama as their two drivers. Katayama proved to be an absolute revelation as she became the only series winner of the F1RLFS under the original IRDU owners, as for 2012 the series collapsed after severe financial mismanagement by the series owners before the season proper began. Nobou Takahashi and Didier Honore have been announced as the drivers for 2012 before the cancellation of the series and both of them managed to drive in the new cars before the series folded altogether. Several years later when the series was revived as the new Rejects of LFS in 2014, Sunshine decided against entering the new category, but none the less, Katayama's legacy as the only series winner under IRDU management was carried over as her name appeared on the new trophy as the original series champion.
After the conclusion of the F1RLFS series, the team broadened their horizons to the F1RWRS. By this point, Mori had sold a majority stake of the team to Nissan and used the money to fund Kamaha's 2012 car, which turned out to be a championship contender in the hands of lead driver Kay Lon. Meanwhile, Dave Simpson's Australian Minardi team was struggling on a shoestring budget after their own deal with Ford fell out at the last minute, forcing the team to run free customer BMW engines from good friend Daniel Melrose's MRT engine workshop. By the time the series reached Australia, the team was desperate for funds to survive until the end of the year. Realising they could enter the F1RWRS for much cheaper than setting up the team on their own, Sunshine jumped at the chance by offering Simpson enough money to not only survive the year but to expand to a second car for Katayama for the rest of the year. Despite the partnership scoring only two points finishes in their existence, Sunshine decided to expand their involvement in the team, to the point where they bought a 95% stake in the team with former F1 driver Martin Brundle taking the other 5% as a way to fund son Alex's ambitions to drive in Formula One for 2014. For 2013, the team was to be renamed from Australian Minardi to Sunshine Infiniti, advertising Nissan's struggling luxury car division.
Katayama stayed with the team that brought her to the F1RWRS for 2013 with fellow Japanese driver and Foxdale refugee Hagane Shizuka signing up as their second driver, which showed that the team was more than ready to make a real go of their F1RWRS foray. Their first in-house built car/engine combination was incredibly quick over one lap in the hands of their drivers as, between the for drivers who eventually drove for the team, they scored 6 fastest laps and a two pole positions. Race results however were few and far between with many mechanical retirements costing the team dearly in terms of major results. Eventually, Shizuka got so frustrated with the apparent lack of progress with improving the reliability that he walked out to join FAT Turbo Racing. In a direct swap with FAT Turbo, Saudi paydriver Saeed Al Faisal was drafted in as his replacement while Sunshine negotiated with Kay Lon as a more permanent replacement for 2014. They eventually managed to run Lon for the last two races of the year after he fell out with previous employer Jones Racing. By year's end, Sunshine had amassed a respectable total of 29 points, which included two second places and an emotional debut win for Katayama in front of her home crowd in Fuji.
Overall, the team was highly confident of further success in 2014 with their driver lineup of the highly promising Katayama and experienced Lon would help vault them into championship contention. Despite grandeur predictions of championship contention and more wins, behind the scenes, trouble had started brewing as Brundle sold his 5% stake in the team to Nissan for a very tidy sum. Whilst this wasn't a major concern, rumours were starting to spread that Nissan was in deep financial trouble and were given an ultimatum by parent company Renault; either cut spending or face being sold at the end of the year. Knowing that the very fate of the company was on the line, head office at Nissan made the decision to sell the team off at the end of 2014 before the season had even begun. Despite all the turmoil behind the scenes, Katayama didn't seem to let this affect her driving as she extracted the full potential out of the car to finish third in the championship, behind eventual champion Mark Dagnall and MRT's Phillippe Nicolas. Lon on the other hand had a much more difficult season as he felt the pressure of the team's uncertain future on his shoulders. After his falling out with Jones in 2013 and Kamaha the year before that, many team owners were wary of signing any long team deals with the German and, with 2014 being a make-or-break year for the German, he failed to impress during the first half of the year, with his performances accumulating to a humiliating DNQ at the British GP. After that, his performances improved dramatically and, by season's end, he had scored three podiums and had helped the team finish an impressive third in the constructors championship, safe with the knowledge that he had a contract with Prospec in 2015.
Despite all the success on track, there was little interest in buying the team, which only served to throw the long-term viability of the team into further doubt. At the end of the European season however, the mysterious Portugese consortium DPT Group (which also allegedy operated Licor Beirao teams in F2RWRS and F3RWRS) launched a bid to take over the team for 2015. Many didn't take the offer seriously until it transpired at the Chinese Grand Prix that the DPT bid was being bankrolled by another Japanese car manufacturer in the form of Daihatsu. Desperate to offload the team to appease their parent company, Nissan quickly signed the deal with Daihatsu the day after the season ending Japanese Grand Prix on the condition that they honoured Katayama's contract with the team for 2015. Alongside Katayama, Sunshine signed on Mecha Grand Prix refugee James Davies when he publicly announced he had enough of the Indonesian team and walked out of their deal at the Japanese Grand Prix. This was after another candidate Daniel Melrose (who left Jones Racing) went to Simpson Motorsports instead. Prior to this, the team did a "farewell" race for Infiniti at the 2014 F1RMGP 24 Hour V8 Bathurst Enduro race, with F1 reject Fabrizio Barbazza helping the team to finish 14th in the race.
The season, however, opened poorly. Katayama did not finish the first race in Tasman and she was suspended for the following two races by the team after she complained to the press. She was replaced by team's reserve Daniel Martins for the following two races, but he had some poor results.
The Katayama-Sunshine rift extended by Monaco. Katayama returned for this round - in what would became her last race with Sunshine. Katayama and Davies had a very poor qualifying session and found themselves outqualified by cars of pre-qualifiers Scuderia Alitalia and Mecha Grand Prix (which was Davies' previous team). When Katayama announced that she had tore up her contract with the team (and moving away to Shizuka's Honda-powered Revolution Engineering DMS team), in which by this time Sunshine had sank into pre-qualifying, Martins returned, only to found himself failing to qualify for Mexican round. Things worsened when the team failed to prequalify in United States, but Davies scored fifth in Canada, scoring his first points since 2012.
Complete F1RWRS Results
|2013||Sunshine SN-1||Infiniti GLX13T||TAS||AUS||MEX||USA||MON||FRA||GBR||GER||NED||BEL||POR||MED||MAC||CHN||JPN||BRA||29||6th|
|Saeed Al Faisal||Ret||4||5|
|2014||Sunshine SN-2||Infiniti GLX14T||TAS||AUS||BRA||MEX||USA||MON||FRA||GBR||GER||BEL||ITA||MED||NED||MAC||CHN||JPN||54||3rd|
|2015||Sunshine SD-01||Daihatsu Zeetec-R1||TAS||AUS||MED||MON||MEX||USA||CAN||GBR||GER||BEL||AUT||ITA||NED||CHN||JPN||BRA||13||9th|
- * Season in progress
- † Driver did not finish the Grand Prix, but was classified as they completed over 90% of the race distance.
|Current F1RWRS Teams|
|Defunct F1RWRS Teams|
| Acuri - AMR - ARC - Bangelia - Calinetic - Dagnall/DGN - FAT Turbo - Flying Fish Motorsports - GRM - Hemogoblin - Horizon - JLD - KQ |
Lotus - MAN - Minardi - Mitie - O'Lauchlan - Pacchia - Phoenix - Rosenforth - SOTL - Tropico - Trueba - Virgin - West Cliff - ZimSport