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Macau Grand Prix 2016

Japanese hotshot Kenta Yamashita making F1 bosses salivate at his talent

Kenta Yamashita is looking for nothing short of victory in the Macau Grand Prix Formula Three race

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 November, 2016, 8:36pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 November, 2016, 11:12am

When asked what he thinks he’ll do at this year’s Formula Three Macau Grand Prix, Kenta Yamashita offers up a look that suggests there could only ever have been one answer coming and that’s “win”. 

The 21-year-old Japanese driver has made victory a habit lately, rallying from a distant 94 points behind around the halfway mark of the All-Japan F3 Championship to seal the deal with three wins on end to bring the season to a close back in September.

Yamashita has since been to Silverstone to test with British F3 outfit T-Sport and left track watchers, and the powers that be, buzzing with the talent he put on show, and with how easily this young man has been adapting to the increased attention.

The first lesson he learned in Britain was a quick one. “I realised I like Indian food. English food, not so much,” he said. “But the whole experience was exciting.”

In the warm-ups for Sunday’s main event, the ThreeBond with T-Sport driver has again been turning heads on his third appearance in Macau, holding his own in a field that this year boasts three past winners (Felix Rosenqvist, Daniel Juncadella, Antonio Felix da Costa) and wealth of emerging stars (led by the likes of 18-year-old flyer Callum Ilott).

Only two Japanese drivers have won the marquee event in Macau in its 62-year history – Takuma Sato in 2001 and Keisuke Kunimoto in 2008, the last time the chequered flag fell on an Asian driver.

In his own previous attempts, Yamashita has finished ninth and 15th but he looks to have the car, and the confidence, to go a lot closer this time.

“I’m happy,” he said. “I won seven times in Japan and had to fight my way back. I won the last three races and am confident.”