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IndyCar racer Armstrong in surprise F3 return for Macau showpiece

IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Marcus Armstrong is a surprise addition to the entry list for next week’s Macau Grand Prix.

Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

The 23-year-old New Zealander will return to the cockpit of an FIA Formula 3 car with MP Motorsport, four years after he finished runner-up in the FIA F3 Championship with Prema Racing.

Armstrong appeared on the entry list on Monday, after agreeing the deal with MP chief Sander Dorsman over the weekend to join team regulars Franco Colapinto and Mari Boya in the Dutch squad’s line-up.

It will be Armstrong’s third appearance in Macau – he finished eighth in 2018, the last running with the old-style F3 cars, and eighth again in 2019.

He will be reunited with MP technical chief Paolo Angilella, with whom he worked at Prema in his F3 days before the Italian switched camps.

“Marcus has got some unfinished business, and he’s worked with Paolo before so the engineering side is not new to him,” MP team manager Jeremy Cotterill told Autosport.

MP is defending the Macau crown it won on its first visit to the Guia circuit in 2019 with Richard Verschoor, who is going for his second triumph in the event but has switched to Trident for the 18-19 November race. The race has not been run for F3 cars in the past three seasons owing to the COVID-19 crisis and restrictions on international travellers to the area.

“It’s difficult to say,” said Cotterill about his team’s prospects.

“It’s a limited format, track knowledge is an advantage, but having said that the only time we’ve been there was with three rookies and we finished first [Verschoor] and seventh [Liam Lawson].

Armstrong finished eighth on his last Macau outing with Prema in 2019

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Armstrong finished eighth on his last Macau outing with Prema in 2019

“I remember saying to Trevor Carlin [rival team boss] as we crossed the line, ‘I thought everyone said this was hard!’

“But I’m 100% certain, even if we win it again, that our weekend will not be as easy as it was before – back in 2019, we only bent two trackrods across three cars, and one of those was Richard on the last lap of the race when he brushed the wall.”

The naming of Armstrong leaves two TBAs on the entry list, one each at Rodin Carlin and Hitech GP.

There has been one driver change. Dutch racer Laurens van Hoepen, 10th in this year’s Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine with ART Grand Prix, steps up with the French team for his F3 race debut in place of Gregoire Saucy.

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