Artem Markelov, who finished eighth in last summer’s Toyota Racing Series, is returning for the 2016 edition which starts with the Lady Wigram Trophy Race at Ruapuna Park, Christchurch on January 16 and 17.
The Russian 21 year old is making no bones about his goal. “I'm out to win and looking forward to the competition and driving in the Toyota Racing Series again.”
“It’s New Zealand's premier single-seater category,” said Markelov. “The standard is good too: as well as the best local talent proving themselves before they go racing internationally, you also have top foreign drivers such as Pedro Piquet, son of three-time F1 world champion Nelson and winner of the last two Brazilian F3 titles.”
"With 215bhp, the cars are obviously not as powerful as GP2 cars (where Markelov has raced for the last two years) but offer competitive racing and the chance to remain sharp over the European winter in a great, sunny environment.”
Markelov’s campaign here last summer was thwarted by five retirements, not all of his own making, including a spectacular crash at Taupo.
He did show good speed with a third in the feature race for the Lady Wigram Trophy in the opening round at Ruapuna, and second places at Teretonga and in the feature race for the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy at Taupo.
Markelov has spent this year racing in the GP2 series, where he finished 13th. He was in the same team – Russian Time – as Aucklander Mitch Evans, the winner of the TRS series in 2010 and 2011 and the GP3 series champion in 2012.
The Muscovite’s best result has been a third place at Spa. Both Markelov and Evans showed increasing pace as the 2015 season ended.
GP2 is considered the main feeder category for Formula 1 and most of its racing is held on the same tracks in support of the main Grand Prix events.
Like many of his contemporaries, Markelov is a graduate from karting. He spent two seasons in the German Formula 3 Championship, finishing runner-up in the title race in 2013, before moving to GP2.
The Toyota Racing Series is held over five consecutive weekends, with practice sessions on the Friday, qualifying and one race on the Saturday and two races on the Sunday.
The full TRS schedule is:
January 16/17 Ruapuna, Christchurch
January 23/24 Teretonga, Invercargill
January 30/31 Hampton Downs, North Waikato
February 6/7 Taupo
February 13/14 New Zealand Grand Prix, Manfeild, Manawatu