Australian Sarah Brown, a veteran of almost a decade in key management roles with the V8 Supercars organisation in Australia is joining the Castrol Toyota Racing Series as one of two category managers.
Her appointment comes as championship preparations hit top speed, marking the 150-day milestone on the countdown to TRS 2018. She will operate from the new Toyota Racing New Zealand headquarters and build facility at the north Waikato Hampton Downs circuit.
Her role will be crucial in managing the myriad details that keep TRS running smoothly through its hectic five weekend, fifteen race season. This includes driver, team and stakeholder liaison, documentation, scheduling, along with a wide range of other functions.
Toyota New Zealand Motorsport Manager Steve Boyce says Mrs Brown’s appointment is ‘a real coup’ for Toyota Racing New Zealand.
“We are very pleased to welcome Sarah on board and her expertise will be a tremendous asset as we enter a new age for Toyota Racing New Zealand.”
The organisation expects to name a second category manager in coming weeks.
Meanwhile, New Zealand and international drivers are developing their plans for the Championship, with several already working on their contracts. With only 20 race drives available across the four teams active in TRS, the message from organisers to intending drivers is “act now to secure a drive”.
Mr Boyce says the category has already finalised placements of the first group of drivers to enter negotiations. They will be announced over the next fortnight.
“The response to our call for entries has been very encouraging and gauging demand from this early surge of interest we’re very confident that the 2018 Championship will once more pit the best Kiwi drivers up against a high quality field of rising stars from around the world,” he said.
“The strong message to drivers is they need to talk to us very soon if they want to be sure of a seat.”
The new Hampton Downs headquarters for TRS and the Toyota 86 Series is also complete and staff are busy with car builds for the 2018 Championship which starts at Ruapuna circuit outside Christchurch on 13 January 2018.
“This is further demonstration of Toyota’s commitment to motor racing in New Zealand, and of our belief in the massive talent pool rising up through our intermediate codes to take on the world,” he said.
With TRS now linked to two drivers in Formula One, to FIA World Endurance Champion Brendon Hartley and double Le Mans winner Earl Bamber, and to drivers excelling in premier categories around the world, Mr Boyce says the mission of the category has never been more relevant or credible.
“All three of the New Zealand drivers who emerged from TRS 2017 – Marcus Armstrong, Taylor Cockerton and Brendon Leitch – are now racing and winning internationally. We’ve shown this category is the best path for Kiwi racers seeking to accelerate their careers and the best way for internationals to gain essential experience during the northern off-season period. Now we are on our way to finding the next world champion, and the next. It’s a very exciting time to be involved in this mission.”