Words and video by Jade Lu | Photos by Christopher Kho
A lot of people have dreams of becoming race car drivers, some being more serious than others. But what some people don't realize is, just like keeping machines running in top shape, on-track performance also relies on the driver's physical fitness. After all, race car drivers are athletes no different from tennis players or runners; they need to be in excellent physical shape to perform well. So when we heard Irish Formula 3 driver Gary Thompson of KCMG was in town, we took the opportunity to ask him some questions about physical fitness and how it correlates to racing and driving.
After a successful outing in a two-seater Formula 1 car last October, Gary Thompson is stepping up the ranks when he tests for Formula Nippon at the Fuji International Speedway next week. Gary will be driving a category Swift FN09 chassis powered by a 3.4-liter Toyota V8, which is faster than GP2, and only a shy slower than the modern day Formula 1 equipment.
The 19-year-old Dubliner, who competed in the Japanese Formula 3 Championship for the past two seasons, will get behind the wheel of the powerful single-seater on November 28 and 29. Gary will once again be driving for SGC by KCMG, the same team whom he ran with for the 2010 and 2011 Formula 3 season.
Days after our interview with Gary Thompson, the 19-year old Dubliner flew to Taiwan and got behind the wheel of a two-seater Formula 1 car for the grand opening of all-new Penbay International Circuit. The outing was not a full-on test, but rather served as a demonstration run where distinguished guests got a piggyback ride around the 3.5 km circuit.
Despite the wet conditions, Thompson enjoyed his time behind the wheel of the Minardi Formula 1 two-seater which produced in excess of 700hp from its race-derived 3L Cosworth V10 engine.
We had a quick chat with rising Irish race car driver Gary Thompson last June while he was on a break from his Formula 3 season. Now that the championship's over and he's back in the Philippines for a short stay, we caught up with Gary once more to find out how his season shaped up and what's in store next for the future Formula 1 star.
All-Japan Formula 3 season round up
The 2011 Japanese Formula 3 season was composed of 16 rounds spread over seven race weekends. But due to the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit in March, the race calendar had to be delayed. Add to that the cancellation of the Rounds 12 and 13 in Suzuka due to a Typhoon. “We had a good year. All year we've been very quick. Maybe lacking a small bit of qualifying pace in comparison to race pace and that made the race difficult. In F3 it is hard to overtake. We've had an uphill struggle all year. We've managed to win some races, a lot of podiums, overall it's a good year,” commented Gary.
Gary Thompson finally put a close to his 2011 Japanese Formula 3 season last weekend at Sportsland Sugo. As one of his favorites tracks on the calendar, the rising Irish driver came to the fast and flowing Sugo circuit with high hopes.
A small mistake on his final qualifying run left Thompson in fifth position - not bad at all on a grid where the top six drivers were only separated by a mere 0.2 seconds. Fortunately, his lightning fast starts catapulted him from fifth to challenge for second by the first corner. Although unable to make the move stick, he slotted cleanly into third and maintained the position to the chequered flag on a circuit short on overtaking opportunities. Finishing on the National Class podium on Saturday's race, Thompson's fortunes sadly turned for the worse with a string of misfortunes on Sunday.
After a typhoon ended his chances of reeling in the National Class points lead at Suzuka, Gary Thompson is hoping to end the 2011 Japanese Formula 3 season in style at Sportsland Sugo. The up-and-coming single-seater star is looking forward to his return at Sugo this weekend, September 24 and 25, for the final three races of this year's championship.
Regarded as one of the most demanding circuits on the Japanese F3 calendar, the 3.74 kilometer high-speed track is amongst Thompson's favorites, making it the perfect venue for the young 19-year-old to end his season on a high note. His strong performance there in 2010 certainly gives an indication that the Aviation Display and Cebu Pacific Air-backed Dubliner will be amongst the frontrunners for victory this weekend.
Gary Thompson will surely have his eyes set on a second victory this weekend at Okayama for the 2011 Japanese Formula 3 Championship National Class Title. One of the brightest young prospects in Irish motorsports, Thompson took his maiden Japanese F3 victory earlier this month with a commanding display of performance at Twin Ring Motegi. The 19-year-old had a string of podium finishes this season building up to this triumph. So it’s no surprise he is in high hopes to keep the momentum going in his pursuit of the championship title.
The Aviation Display and Cebu Pacific Air-backed SGC by KCMG team is on a mission to climb up to the top of the standings as they travel this August 27 and 28 to the Okayama International Circuit for Rounds 10 and 11 of the 2011 campaign. Thompson’s victory at Motegi brought him within 23 points of the championship leader. And with 24 points up for grabs this weekend at Okayama, he knows that a strong showing in both races is a must if he wants to keep his championship hopes alive.