British based Formula 3 Euroseries squad Manor Motorsport has realistic expectations of usurping reigning champion entrant ART during the 2008 season after announcing, potentially, the most exciting F3 driver line-up in the team's glittering ...
British based Formula 3 Euroseries squad Manor Motorsport has realistic expectations of usurping reigning champion entrant ART during the 2008 season after announcing, potentially, the most exciting F3 driver line-up in the team's glittering history.
Sam Bird and Niall Breen, both stepping up to the ultra-competitive European series from the ranks of British Formula 3, will be joined at the Dinnington team by All-Japan Formula 3 racers Kazuya Oshima and Koudai Tsukakoshi.
Speaking on the signing of his quartet of star drivers for 2008, Manor team owner John Booth said: "Obviously we're delighted to have four proven F3 race winners in the team and the new season promises to be very exciting for us. Everyone at Manor is looking forward to mounting a serious challenge for the F3 Euroseries title in 2008."
Bird, who will celebrate his 21st birthday on 9th January, has already achieved a huge amount in karting and single-seater racing during a high-profile career. Concluding his second year of Formula BMW UK competition as Vice-Champion, he went on to finish fourth overall in the 2006 Formula Renault UK Championship with four wins to his credit.
After graduating to British Formula 3, the British Racing Drivers' Club 'Rising Star' and member of the MSA Race Elite programme raced to a pair of victories and ended the 2007 campaign a highly creditable fourth overall in the driver standings.
Like Bird, 21-year-old Breen's deal with Manor will mark his second season of F3 competition but also the Irishman's first at European level. On the back of a successful karting career, Breen made the transition to cars in 2005 in Formula BMW UK where he immediately shone as the top rookie driver.
Remaining in Formula BMW UK in 2006, Breen scorched to championship victory with nine race wins. He then moved into British F3 in 2007, actually racing as team-mate to Bird, and ended the year fifth overall and became the first Irish driver in five years to win a British F3 race.
Oshima is the reigning All-Japan Formula 3 Champion, taking six race victories during his title winning season, and the 20-year-old is also the 2007 Super GT300 Series Champion. In addition, he is the latest in a string of Toyota Development Programme backed racers to have been placed with Manor Motorsport.
TDP aces Kohei Hirate and Kazuki Nakajima both raced with Manor in 2006 and the latter has now graduated to Formula One full-time with the AT&T Williams F1 Team.
Oshima attained title glory in the Formula A class of the 2001 All-Japan Karting series before stepping up to cars in 2004 in the Esso Formula Toyota Series. Winning the championship the following season, he then moved into Formula 3 in 2006 and ended his maiden campaign as Vice-Champion in the All-Japan F3 Championship.
Tsukakoshi, of course, raced for Manor in November's 54th Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix and scorched from ninth on the grid to an outstanding second place finish -- missing out on victory by just 1.7 seconds. Like Oshima, the 21-year-old competed in All-Japan F3 in 2007 and ended the campaign fifth overall with two wins.
Prior to his F3 graduation in 2006, where he also finished fifth in the All-Japan series, the Honda Racing backed sensation took a dominant series victory in Formula Dream in 2005. His racing CV also boasts championship success in the Suzuka, All-Japan and Formula 4 karting categories in his homeland.
Having attracted four of the most talented young racing drivers in the ranks of F3, two of whom with manufacturer backing, Manor is confident of its most successful year ever in the F3 Euroseries in 2008 and the team can't wait for the opening two rounds of the season which are scheduled to take place at Hockenheim in Germany on 12th/13th April.
Continuing in its regular slot as the main support category for the spectacular DTM touring car series, F3 Euroseries will also visit Mugello in Italy, Germany's Norisring and Nurburgring, Barcelona in Spain, Le Mans in France, Brands Hatch in England and Zandvoort in the Netherlands. The season finale will be held at Hockenheim in October.
In addition to the above events, F3 Euroseries will also act as support to the World Touring Car Championship when the global saloon car category visits the street circuit at Pau, France, on the weekend of 31st May/1st June.