Man v boys: Japanese veteran Ryuji Kumita, 50, to line up at Macau Grand Prix F3 race
B-Max Racing Team driver and team principal from Japan will compete in the blue riband race meant to be the breeding ground for future champions
Japanese veteran racer Ryuji Kumita is set to become the oldest competitor ever in the blue riband race at next month’s Macau Grand Prix but not everyone will celebrate his age-defying feat.
Kumita, who goes by the pseudonym “Dragon”, will raise eyebrows when he starts on the grid in his Dallara Volkswagen for the 64th edition of the Far East classic aged 50.
He is by far the oldest driver in this year’s line-up and the oldest driver to take part in the event since it became a Formula Three race in 1984, the year the late, great Ayrton Senna covered himself in glory. Typically, the Macau Grand Prix is competed by up-and-coming teenagers, who are hoping to gain a Formula One seat such as newly crowned F3 European champion Lando Norris, who is just 17.
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Kumita is expected to irk some observers of the race – meant to be the breeding ground for future champions – as he will have dual roles as both racer and team principal of the B-Max Racing Team, who will start three cars in this year’s 26-car Macau line-up.
Kumita is this year’s Japanese F3 National Class champion and he will be joined on the team by Super Formula aces Yuhi Sekiguchi and Kenta Yamashita, who both won the Japanese F3 titles in 2011 and 2016 respectively. Sekiguchi and Yamashita have experience in Macau, both finishing fourth in the past.
Kumita has taken over racing duties from Japanese F3 champion Mitsunori Takaboshi, who is not on the entry list for this year’s Macau race from November 16-19.
Not much more is known about Kumita, who has competed in the Formula Masters in China in the past with limited success.
However, records suggest the Japanese will be one of the oldest competitors during Macau Grand Prix weekend since Hong Kong evergreen racer Albert Poon took part in the Lotus Greater China Race – a special event – in Macau in 2013 at the age of 77.
Poon also took part in the Guia race in 1994, finishing 16th when he was 58.
Long-time Macau Grand Prix racer and Hong Kong star driver, Darryl O’Young, said it would be “amazing” to see Kumita race this year but suggested he might look out of place against competitors more than half his age.
“It’s strange to be competing at age 50 but if you look at the F3 cars, it’s really an amazing car to drive if you’re not trying to make it as a single-seater F1 driver,” said O’Young, who will be the only Hong Kong entry in the Macau GT Cup – FIA GT World Cup for Craft Bamboo Racing.
“People have gone away from this route but I understand why people would want to drive it [Formula Three] and if he [Kumita] drives it well, it’s a really good thing.
“But the purpose of the F3 race at Macau is meant to be kind of a competition for young drivers. It’s different for sure and I guess a lot of people will be looking at how he does.”