Toyota Racing New Zealand has launched the new FT50 race car for the Toyota Racing Series, describing the new car as a significant step forward featuring the latest in race car technology and safety and a worthy successor to its predecessor.
The TRS is New Zealand’s leading single-seater category and the new FT50 will be raced by all teams and drivers in the 2015 championship. Toyota New Zealand Motorsport Manager Steve Boyce says the FT50 builds on the success of TRS, which gives young and rising New Zealand racing drivers valuable experience driving a modern ‘wings and slicks’ single seater before they contemplate heading offshore to pursue a career. In its first ten years the series has consistently attracted talented international drivers to New Zealand to hone their racing skills during the northern hemisphere winter, meaning TRS also gives young Kiwis a chance to gauge their speed and skill against the drivers they are likely to meet on circuits in Europe, Australia, Asia and the USA.
“This is a car for the future and a significant step up for young drivers seeking experience in our leading ‘wings and slicks’ category. We have taken a bold step forward in driver safety, technology and driving dynamics to ensure the championship continues to provide drivers with a world-class driving experience,” Mr Boyce said.
Category manager and race driver Barrie Thomlinson says the arrival of the FT50 ushers in a new era for TRS. The new car is “simply stunning”, he says, and will ensure TRS remains at the leading edge of driver development.
“Tatuus have delivered us a beautiful car which we can all be very proud of and the teams and drivers can look forward to facing a new challenge as we look to the future. As always we remain 100 per cent focused on our core mission of developing young drivers’ skills in the cockpit and this car will enable us to continue to do so.”
Mr Thomlinson says the championship has propelled many young Kiwi drivers onto the world stage and the top echelons of motorsport.
- Brendon Hartley of Palmerston North now races in the FIA World Endurance Championship as a professional driver with Porsche
- Mitch Evans races in GP2 and is fourth overall with one round remaining
- Richie Stanaway competes as a factory Aston Martin driver in WEC and has competed at the front in GP3
- Nick Cassidy, races currently in the FIA European Formula Three championship and heads to the biggest event on the F3 calendar, the Macau GP. He is the third Kiwi-born TRS graduate to compete there in recent year.
- Wanganui’s Earl Bamber raced in A1GP for New Zealand and is now heading towards becoming a multiple Porsche champion in Europe and Asia
- Australia is home to Shane Van Gisbergen and Daniel Gaunt who compete successfully in V8 Supercars and the Porsche Carrera series.
TRS has also honed the driving skills of recognisable young international racers which include TRS race winner and current Red Bull Racing Formula one driver Daniil Kvyat; Alex Lynn, now closing in on the GP3 title; and Lucas Auer, currently fourth in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship.
The new car has been tested in Italy and New Zealand, with multiple TRS champion Nick Cassidy driving the car at the Italian shake down tests and twice TRS champion Daniel Gaunt handling the testing duties in New Zealand at Hampton Downs and Taupo. Both drivers agree that the new car will be a valuable platform for drivers seeking to move up the international single-seater ladder.
Mr Thomlinson says the data obtained from each test will be used to decide on the final set up specification of the car prior to the individual race teams taking over for the 2015 series.
“It’s going to be very exciting to see the drivers and teams work with this new car and we are sure those who have worked so hard to make this new car a reality will be pleased with the outcome,” he says.
About the 2015 Toyota Racing Series
The new FT50 race car will make its race debut race in the 2015 Toyota Racing Series, with the five week championship kicking off at Ruapuna in January and finishing with the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild near Feilding in February.
The Toyota Racing Series pits the fastest rising stars of New Zealand motorsport against top international drivers in a fifteen race Gold Star championship that offers drivers the chance to win some of the most prestigious and historic trophies in New Zealand motor racing.
Barrie Thomlinson says given the FT50’s promising form in testing “we can expect to see existing lap records lowered at each of the circuits visited in the championship.”
Canterbury sports fans can look forward to spectacular racing with the return of the series to Mike Pero Motorsport Park at Ruapuna on January 17-18. The Toyota Racing Series last included this challenging circuit in the 2008-2009 season.
The championship then heads south to Invercargill for round two at Teretonga, a favourite South Island circuit and the southernmost permanent race circuit in the world.
A long haul north after Teretonga brings the cars and crews to Hampton Downs in the north Waikato for the third round and the series mid-point.
The following weekend the championship returns to Taupo’s Ricoh Motorsport Park after a year’s absence. This circuit hosted the New Zealand round of the A1GP championship and is the penultimate round of the championship.
The final round of the 2015 Championship is the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild near Feilding. There, the drivers will be fighting to secure the outright championship and rookie titles as well as the chance to put their name on New Zealand’s most prestigious motor racing title, the New Zealand Grand Prix.