Makino was struck by a bout of meningitis in December, forcing him to miss last season’s final race, and although he was released from hospital in January he has yet to return to action, skipping last weekend’s Okayama pre-season SUPER GT test.
That inevitably led to suspicions Makino would also have to sit out the two-day Suzuka Super Formula test that begins tomorrow (Thursday).
Now his Dandelion Racing team has confirmed that Sasahara will take Makino’s place in the teams #6 Honda-powered car.
Sasahara contested the full season for Team Mugen last year as a substitute for Red Bull junior Juri Vips, who was unable to make it to Japan due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
He placed 18th in the standings, scoring his points in the final round at Fuji, but was replaced by Hiroki Otsu within the Mugen stable for the 2021 season.
Three ‘TBA’ slots remain to be filled on the entry list for the Suzuka test at Toyota teams TOM’S, KCMG and Kondo Racing, with Kazuki Nakajima, Kamui Kobayashi and Sacha Fenestraz all absent.
Giuliano Alesi (TOM’S), Kazuko Kotaka (KCMG) and Yuichi Nakayama (Kondo) are poised to fill those seats.