New Zealand’s rising race drivers go up against a record field of young international racers this weekend as the Toyota Racing Series reaches its finale at the 58th New Zealand Grand Prix.
In a field of 23 drivers entered for the series, there are 19 internationals and four New Zealanders. The Kiwis (pictured) are Michael Scott, Brendon Leitch, Damon Leitch and James Munro.
Now in its tenth year, Toyota Racing Series is New Zealand’s premier race category, giving rising local racers a chance to experience current race technology and attracting the best young racers from overseas to hone their skills on New Zealand’s most challenging race tracks.
TRS Category Manager Barrie Thomlinson says the adoption of a high intensity format of five back-to-back race weekends has been a key factor in bringing the international drivers to New Zealand.
The ‘five-in-five’ format is a response to feedback from local and overseas drivers, managers and teams. It’s a motorsport pressure-cooker with drivers in their race cars testing, qualifying and racing for 20 out of 30 days, fifteen races making up the championship which culminates this weekend with the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild near Palmerston North.
“The new format has had an immediate positive effect on the number of international drivers coming here for TRS. We are now ‘on the radar’ in Europe and the USA, attracting increasing numbers of drivers, teams and engineers from overseas,” Thomlinson says.
The series uses a carbon-fibre composite race car chassis produced by Tatuus in Italy that features 1.8-litre Toyota engines, six-speed race-bred transmissions, Michelin ‘slick’ racing tyres and a full aerodynamic formula-car design. The TRS car has similar handling, braking and performance to the global Formula Three category.
Drivers get experience working alongside their engineers and mechanics in proper race teams and alongside other aspiring racers. Supported by their teams, they are able to work with professional race engineers on their car’s set-up and see how to use the performance data available from the cars’ onboard electronics.