Andrea Caldarelli, who lies second in the GP3 drivers' standings after the opening two rounds of the season, has brought his season in the category to a close as he pursues an opportunity in Japan with long-time backer Toyota.
The Japanese manufacturer have given the Italian the chance to race in Formula Nippon for their factory-supported Kondo Racing team, forcing him to abandon his GP3 campaign with the Tech 1 Racing team.
Caldarelli finished second in the opening race of the GP3 season at Istanbul, and has finished in the points in the three races since then. This has left him second in the standings, just two points behind sophomore driver Nigel Melker.
“It gives our heartstrings a bit of a tug to see Andrea leaving, but that's how it is,” said Tech 1 boss Simon Abadie. “He couldn't turn down an offer from a manufacturer like Toyota and we fully understand his position. Toyota has been backing him for several years and it's good for his career to go to Japan to race.
“He's currently second in GP3 and he's contributed a lot to our team. He's been one of the stalwarts since the start of the season, and we've moved up a step with him.”
Tech 1 have called up Dutchman Thomas Hylkema to replace Caldarelli. Hylkema will drive for the team in two test sessions at the Hungaroring and Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia prior to his opening race for the Toulouse squad at the Valenica Street Circuit on 25/26 June.
“Now, we're very happy to count on Thomas Hylkema,” Abadie continued. “It's a challenge to welcome a new driver during the season, but it's not a problem in itself. Thomas has good experience and our other two drivers, Tamas Pal Kiss and Aaro Vainio, will help him to settle in with the team.
“Tamas scored Tech 1 Racing's first victory in GP3 on the Catalonian circuit and we're leading the teams' championship. We've achieved a good momentum and we're progressing rapidly. I'm sure that Thomas will adapt to the team without any problems.”