Macau Grand Prix may see Daniel Juncadella hold on to his crown
Young Spaniard Daniel Juncadella hopes to crown a fantastic season by retaining his Formula Three title at next month's event
Defending champion Daniel Juncadella of Spain has been too fast and too furious for the rest of Europe this season and will be hoping to crown a fantastic season by retaining his Formula Three title at the Macau Grand Prix next month.
Juncadella headlines a powerful field for the race, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Back in 1983, at the very first race, a Brazilian named Ayrton Senna won the event. That victory put Macau on the map as Senna later went on to be crowned world Formula One champion.
Since then seven more drivers who have raced in Macau have gone on to be crowned F1 world champion - Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Mika Hakkinen, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button, Sebastien Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.
Juncadella, who is leading both the Formula 3 Euro Series and the FIA European Formula 3 Championship, will be hoping to add his name to this illustrious line-up as organisers yesterday unveiled a competitive field of 30 drivers.
Joao Manuel Costa Antunes, co-ordinator of the Macau Grand Prix race committee, said: "We have 30 superb entries and what is particularly notable is that every one of the cars on the grid at Macau will be the next generation Dallara F3 chassis, which was only launched at the start of this season, and is still in limited supply."
Juncadella is joined at the Prema Powerteam by a young driver hotly tipped as a future F1 star, Raffaele Marciello, already a Ferrari protégé, who will make his Macau debut. Also among the newcomers are the newly crowned British F3 champion, Jack Harvey, fellow Briton Harry Tincknell, Pipo Derani of Brazil and the German Pascal Wehrlein.
The sons of two former world rally champions will do battle for the FIA F3 Intercontinental Cup title: Tom Blomqvist, son of Stig, found success on the Guia circuit in Formula BMW Pacific but makes his debut next month in a Formula 3 car. Carlos Sainz junior, son of another rallying legend and a Formula BMW Pacific winner at Macau, is back for a second attempt to conquer the Guia circuit in Formula 3.
Among the exciting crop of drivers returning for another shot at the coveted title are Germany's Daniel Abt, second in this year's GP3 Series, António Félix da Costa, also a GP3 and Formula Renault 3.5 race winner, and Felipe Nasr of Brazil, a former British F3 champion and current GP2 driver. The recently crowned German F3 champion Jimmy Eriksson will race for Galaxy Double R Racing alongside the Formula Renault 3.5 driver Kevin Korjus, a Lotus F1 protégé who is making his Macau debut.
Antunes said: "With such an impressive entry, we have no doubt that the 30th running of the jewel in the junior formula racing crown will more than live up to its dazzling reputation."
Apart from the F3 race, the final two rounds of the prestigious FIA World Touring Car Championship will be held for the eighth successive year in Macau.
The Macau rounds will mark the close of a chapter for Chevrolet as it ends its factory involvement, having dominated the championship for the past three years. From the start of this season, Chevrolet's trio of outstanding drivers have led the charge towards the 2012 FIA WTCC title: Yvan Muller, the two-time and reigning world champion, Robert Huff, who jointly lead the drivers' championship with Muller, and Alain Menu will all be in action.
In the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, Briton Michael Rutter, who won an unprecedented seventh title last year, is back to defend his crown. Challenging him will be arch-rival John McGuinness, Martin Jessopp, last year's runner-up, and Conor Cummins, runner-up in 2009.