Motorsport: Irish starlet Thompson aiming to be big in Japan
Teenage single-seater star Gary Thompson will become the first Irish driver to race in the Japanese Formula 3 series this season.
Thompson, a member of the Achievement by KCMG squad, 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 was 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 the 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.
"I did some testing in a German specification F3 car in Valencia recently and they really are fantastic machines," said Thompson.
"The step up in power and cornering speeds wasn't too daunting and I'm confident I'll be able to make my mark when the season gets going. I can't wait to start testing."
The 16-race Japanese F3 series gets under way at the Suzuka Grand Prix circuit on April 17 and concludes at Autopolis on October 17.
Meanwhile, Antrim's Josh Mulholland has been selected to race with Manor Competition in the 2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship.
In his first season of car racing last year the Randalstown 20-year-old was a consistent front-runner in the Formula Renault BARC Championship, finishing a highly creditable fourth overall with two victories, four other podiums and two pole positions.
Mulholland enjoyed a stellar karting career in Northern Ireland, claiming the Irish O Plate Rotax Max championships, the Rotax Max All-Ireland Karting Champion, the Rotax Max Race of Champions Winner and the Irish Kart Grand Prix Winner in 2008 alone.
At home, the penultimate round of the Irish Rallycross Championship takes place at Mondello Park on Sunday.