Tadasuke Makino may have just turned 19, and he may not have raced in Super GT before, but the rookie prospect is already becoming a major factor in the race for GT300 class victory at the Suzuka 1000km in August.
Makino made his Super GT test debut at the wheel of the Mooncraft-constructed Syntium Lotus Evora of Cars Tokai Dream28, partnering regular drivers Kazuho Takahashi and Hiroki Katoh as a third driver. After passing his rookie test with ease, Makino went on to set the team’s fastest lap in the Friday afternoon session.Though the 1:59.120 set by Makino was a ways off of the outright fastest lap turned by Katoh in the same car, Makino was consistently and decisively around the pace of his far more experienced co-driver throughout testing, even in the wet conditions.
Makino would enter the frame at Cars Tokai Dream28 as a dependably quick third driver – one who could ease the burden on Katoh as the team’s ace, and help further ease the duties for owner-driver Takahashi, age 64, who fits the billing of an “FIA Bronze Rated” driver to a tee.
Cars Tokai Dream28 and Mooncraft Engineering won the Suzuka 1000km in 2007 with the Daytona Prototype-derived Shiden, thanks to an astonishing performance from their third driver that they brought in for the race – Hiroki Yoshimoto, just removed from a two-year stint in the GP2 Series. Yoshimoto went on to win Suzuka again in 2012 and 2014.
With that in mind, and with the bitter memories of the closed pit lane penalty that cost the Lotus team what looked to be a comprehensive GT300 class win at Suzuka a year ago, Cars Tokai Dream28 may have found another future star in Makino, who may very well have aspirations that go well and beyond that of Super GT in his very near future.
Makino is part of the Honda Formula Dream Project, the manufacturer’s young driver programme for aspiring Formula 1 drivers. In recent years, the HFDP has successfully graduated former Japanese F3 champion Nobuharu Matsushita to the GP2 Series, and last year’s top JF3 true rookie, Nirei Fukuzumi, is in his debut season in the GP3 Series.
Last year, Makino finished runner-up to Sho Tsuboi by just three points in the inaugural FIA Formula 4 Japanese Championship, which serves as Super GT’s main support category. Makino recorded an impressive six wins, eleven total podiums, and four pole positions in 2015 driving for Rn-sports.
This year, Makino steps up to the All-Japan Formula Three Championship for the Toda Racing team, where he currently lies seventh in the championship, and scored his first F3 podium at Okayama International Circuit.
Mark this Osaka City native as one to watch in the month to come, and for many years thereafter.