17.02.10 | Gary Thompson to Race in Japanese F3
Teenage single-seater star Gary Thompson has confirmed that he will become the first Irish driver to race in the Japanese Formula 3 series this season with the Achievement by KCMG squad.
Thompson graduates to the key Japanese single-seater feeder series after taking victory in the Rookie Cup in the Formula BMW Pacific series in his first season of car racing last year.
The 17-year-old Leaving Cert student from Donabate had been Ireland's leading exponent in international kart racing for several seasons before taking a sensational debut victory in the first round of the Formula BMW Pacific series in Sepang last April.
He went on to add nine more podium finishes in a rookie season of remarkable speed and consistency, attracting the attention of KCMG along the way.
Thompson has had the offer of a sponsored drive with KCMG in Japanese F3 series since early in 2009 and finally confirmed the deal this week. In opting for the world famous Japanese series he is following a well worn path to one of the toughest single seater schools in world motor racing.
His team boss Paul Ip has been following his progress for some time and is delighted to secure the Dublner's signature.
“We are very pleased to have signed Gary I have been watching Gary since he started testing in Formula BMW and was very impressed with his speed and maturity,” says Ip.
“Gary will be a fantastic asset to the team and it's fantastic to have an Irish driver racing in Japan.
“These are exciting times for the Achievement by KCMG. We have added a third car to our F3 team this season and we are also moving into Formula Nippon with support from Toyota Motorsport, providing a factory supported academy for our drivers to progress through.
Japanese Formula 3 has long been an important arena for talented and ambitious racers. Force India star Adrian Sutil is the latest F1 graduate from the series while reigning Japanese F3 champion Marcus Ericsson has just won a plum drive in GP2, one rung below F1, for the coming year.
For Thompson, then, the opportunity to make significant career progress through the series is there for the taking. This year will be the first of a planned two-year programme in the series and he will use a National Class Dallara chassis powered by a TOMs Toyota engine.
Needless to say, he is very excited about the forthcoming campaign and is looking forward to starting testing at the beginning of March.
“I'm thrilled to have signed with KCMG who have already won many races in Japanese F3 and who have shown an interest in me right from the start of my car career,” said Gary.
“I've done some testing in a German specification F3 car in Valencia recently and they really are fantastic machines. The step up in power and cornering speeds wasn't too daunting, though, and I'm confident I'll be able to make my mark when the season gets going.
“I can't wait to start testing. It's going to be a tough season juggling racing commitments in Asia with study for the Leaving but I'm almost used to it now!”
Along with his new team Thompson will also be working with long time adviser John O'Hara who has guided the career of many European racers in Asia for several years. The Kildare former A1 Team Ireland driver is confident that Thompson has what it takes to make his mark in Japan.
“Gary is very talented and applies himself well to the job in hand so I have no doubts that he will quickly get up to speed in Japanese F3. It's a tough school but this is a two-year programme and the target is to be challenging consistently for victory in season two.
The 16-race Japanese F3 series gets under way at the Suzuka Grand Prix circuit on April 17th and concludes at Autopolis on October 17th.