Young up-and-coming driver, Shinya Sean Michimi, who got his start racing open wheel cars in the Formula Challenge Japan series, is making the move to the battlefield in Europe and will make his debut racing in the 2014 Auto GP Series with Euronova Racing at Monza Circuit on May 31st and Jun 1st for rounds 7 and 8.
The Auto GP Series, held mainly in Europe with 16 races total in 8 countries, is a very popular series and is considered a gateway to F1. The first Auto GP champion, Romain Grosjean, went on to become the current star driver of the Lotus F1 team. Kimiya Sato, who won 5 races and finished 2nd in the Auto GP championship last year, was rewarded with a Sauber F1 team rookie test and as a result, went on to attain a reserve driver position with Sauber at the Suzuka Japanese F1 Grand Prix last year. Sato is running in the GP2 series this year as well as making a bid for the Championship in Auto GP, currently with 2 race wins and a solid lead in the championship points.
Shinya Sean Michimi raced karts in his youth growing up in the United States and was a National Karting Champion in America. He then went on to compete in the FTRS (Formula Toyota Racing School) Shootout in Japan when he was 18 years old and won a scholarship and position as a driver in Toyota’s Driver Development Program. He ran FCJ (Formula Challenge Japan) for two years with Toyota’s support. In an effort to gain more experience as well as to see how he would stack up against top Junior drivers from around the world, Shinya ran spot entries competing in the MRF Challenge Series held in India and Bahrain. Shinya proved that he was able to consistently run well against much more experienced drivers from Europe, and even earned a 2nd Place podium finish in Bahrain.
As a result of Shinya’s performance in the MRF Challenge series last year, in which he showed that he could accomplish equal or better performances than some much more experienced current and past GP2,FR3.5 & F3 drivers, he caught the attention of well-known formula race team Euronova. Shinya earned an opportunity to test Euronova’s F3 car at the Vallelunga Circuit in Italy. He immediately impressed the team and obtained a lap time very close to the lap record held by well-known young driver, Sergey Sirotkin, former Euronova driver and current reserve driver for the Sauber F1 team.
As a result of Shinya’s ability to quickly adapt and show great speed in the F3 car, team owner/director Vincenzo Sospiri decided to put Shinya in the 3.5L, 550HP Auto GP machine for a test. Despite the fact that this was his first experience in a big formula car, he made no mistakes and cranked very impressive lap times. As a result, the team expressed their interest in having Shinya join them to run in Auto GP and began talks with Shinya’s management team.
Shinya’s management team had originally been working on moving him up to the F3 class this year, but with this new opportunity arising from his successful testing, the management team had to carefully examine and weigh the options. Finally, after much discussion with Team Euronova and with the blessing of Shinya’s long time supporter, Plan Z President, Mr. Satoshi Kadoya, of Tokyo, Japan, Shinya would get the opportunity to race in the Auto GP Series. Plans were then made for Shinya to make his debut in Auto GP with Euronova at Monza.
Words from Vincenzo Sospiri, Euronova
“We are all looking forward to running Shinya at Monza this weekend. It’s quite a big step for him as the Auto GP car is very powerful. But he ran well at Adria today and I’m confident that he will adapt easily. He will also have to learn the Monza circuit, as he’s never been there before, but we will make all our data available for him, and our other drivers will share their knowledge with him to help get him up to speed as quickly as possible.”
Words from Shinya Sean Michimi
“I am very excited to compete in a highly competitive series like Auto GP with a Euronova Racing prepared car. My test in Adria yesterday went well, and although I am taking a big step, I feel ready for the challenge of the Auto GP Series. I am also very excited to race on such an historic track like Monza, as it has a fantastic classic layout, and has held so many great Grand Prix in the past. I had some tough breaks in FCJ last year and was not able to win the championship, so it was a very tough off season for me. But my management team worked very hard and talked with many racing teams in both Japan and overseas. As a result of my management team’s efforts, they were able to help secure this amazing opportunity in the best possible race category and race team. I will do my very best in the races and I hope to do well to be able to thank my supporters, Mr. Kadoya of Plan Z and his staff members, my management team, and other people who have supported me and have helped to make all of this happen.
I was also very saddened yesterday by the shocking news about Mr. Yamaji’s passing. He was one of my teachers at FTRS while running FCJ in Japan, and he taught me a lot with his great passion for motorsports. I will be remembering what he taught me this weekend and I will do my very best to honor his memory.
I know it is not an easy road, but I strive to continue on the path to F1. Running the Auto GP Series with Euronova is an amazing opportunity and an excellent step towards that goal. I am truly grateful for this opportunity and the tremendous faith that Vincenzo Sospiri and Euronova have placed in me, and I really hope to be able to get good results for the team.”