The provisional entry list for the 2016 Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix was revealed on Thursday by Autosport Magazine deputy editor Marcus Simmons.
This year’s Macau Grand Prix, the 63rd running in history, and the 34th for Formula 3 cars, will be held on November 20th, and the entry list for this year features five current Autobacs Super GT Series drivers, three of whom compete in the GT500 category.
Prema Powerteam enter this year’s Macau GP as the prohibitive favourites. The powerhouse organization have won each of the last five European Formula 3 championships, and they’ve brought back Felix Rosenqvist, the 2015 European F3 Champion, who bids for an unprecedented third consecutive Macau GP victory.
Also racing for Prema Powerteam will be New Zealand’s Nick Cassidy, who is in his third Macau GP, and his first with Prema. The driver of the #36 au TOM’s Lexus RC-F finished third in this race two years ago, was last year’s All-Japan Formula Three Champion, and is currently fourth in the European F3 standings with one round remaining.
At the Suzuka 1000km, Cassidy became the first driver from New Zealand to record a Super GT podium finish.
This year’s All-Japan Formula Three champion, Kenta Yamashita, is back for his third Macau GP entry, seeking to improve on a best finish of 9th in 2014. But this year, Yamashita will drive not for TOM’s, but for the T-Sport racing team in a Threebond-powered Dallara. He is already confirmed to drive the #25 VivaC Toyota 86 full-time for VivaC Team Samurai next season.
That leaves F3 rookie Sho Tsuboi as the only entry for Team TOM’s, who have won five Macau Grands Prix in their history. Tsuboi was third in this year’s championship, recording fifteen podium finishes – and will be on the radar of Toyota’s Super GT teams in the immediate future.
B-Max Racing will take three Volkswagen-powered cars to Macau, two of which will be fielded by Nissan factory drivers Jann Mardenborough and Daiki Sasaki.
Mardenborough enters the Macau GP for the first time. The driver of the #3 B-Max NDDP Nissan GT-R in the GT300 category, Mardenborough finished runner-up in this year’s All-Japan F3 title race, and won his very first Super GT race in the Fuji 500km.
Sasaki, who drives in GT500 for Kondo Racing in the #24 Forum Engineering GT-R, is also a first-time entry into the famous street race. Sasaki ran only a limited slate of races in All-Japan F3 this season, but swept the second race meeting of the year at Fuji Speedway. He is a first-time GT500 race winner in 2016, at Sportsland Sugo.
Tadasuke Makino, newly promoted to the #15 Drago Modulo Honda NSX-GT in GT500, will enter his first Macau GP in a sole Toda Racing entry. Makino was fifth in this year’s All-Japan F3 championship as a rookie, and arrives as a top prospect of the Honda Formula Dream Project (HFDP).
Legendary Formula 1 champions Ayrton Senna (1983) and Michael Schumacher (1990) are among the former Macau Grand Prix champions, as well as current Super GT drivers Jörg Müller (1993), and Andre Couto (2000), and Super GT alumni John Nielsen (1984), David Brabham (1989), Ralf Schumacher (1995), Ralph Firman (1996), Peter Dumbreck (1998), Oliver Jarvis (2007), and Keisuke Kunimoto (2008).
Last year’s GT300 Drivers’ Champion Couto is one of two confirmed drivers for the 2016 FIA GT World Cup at Macau who currently compete in Super GT.
The other is Hiroki Yoshimoto, a three-time class champion of the Suzuka 1000km. Couto will drive a Lamborghini Huracan for FFF Racing, Yoshimoto will drive a Ferrari 488 for HubAuto Racing.
The FIA GT World Cup will take place during the Macau GP weekend, and features a star-studded field in its own right, with defending champion Maro Engel, and former 24 Hours of Le Mans champion Earl Bamber, among the entries.