Japanese racer Kotaro Sakurai has signed to join Status Grand Prix for the 2012 GP3 Series season as he prepares to make his racing debut in the Formula One support series. The reigning British Formula 3 National Class champion joins Status GPs line-up after gathering experience of the 280hp Dallara GP3 car with the team over the past 18 months. Sakurai, 17, made his GP3 Series debut with the Status GP in testing in the autumn of 2010, and then completed a full GP3 testing programme with the team at the end of last year after the conclusion of his successful British F3 campaign with Hitech Racing.
The teenager from Tokyo returned to the teams No15 GP3 car in the official test at Barcelona last month, and will complete his preparations for the season, which features GP3 Series races at eight Formula One Grands Prix across Europe including Monaco, at the final official GP3 Series pre-season test at the Silverstone GP circuit next week on April 11-12. Prior to his first season of racing in Britain last year, Sakurai competed in the 2010 Formula BMW Asia series after winning the BMW Scholarship award.
Status GP team principal Teddy Yip said: "Status GP has been involved in Kotaros development as a driver over the past 18 months, and watched him mature and grow as a driver. Its a great pleasure to welcome him into the team on a full-time basis in the GP3 Series this season, and his dedication and determination to succeed aligned to his natural ability will see him progress through the season on the F1 stage."
Sakurai said: "I am delighted to race with Status GP in the GP3 Series this season. I learnt a lot in British F3 last year, and I now know the GP3 car well after completing all the testing. I am ready to make this next step in my career, and look forward to learning from the team and achieve some strong results."
Sakurai joins second-year GP3 Series driver Marlon Stockinger in the team along with a third driver to be announced in the near future.