Team-mates will be rivals in Toyota Racing Series

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Team-mates American Will Owen and Frenchman Timothe Buret will be going head to head in the opening round of the 2016 Toyota Racing Series at Ruapuna Park, Christchurch on January 16 and 17.

The pair have been racing side by side for Juncos Racing in the Pro Mazda Indy car series - the third rung on the Road to Indy ladder for the Indy Car Championship in the USA which Aucklander Scott Dixon has won four times.

In the New Zealand Toyota Racing Series Buret will be run by the Auckland based ETEC team and Owen by Giles Motorsport.

Buret, who was born in Montpellier, France but based himself in Indianapolis this year, had slightly the better of their battles in the 10 round, 16 race American series in 2015.

After winning a round on the Indianapolis road course and finishing in the top five of seven other races, Buret finished the season in fifth place.

Twenty year old Buret had two seasons of racing in France in 2013 and 2014 after graduating from karts, which he started in 2010. He scored seven wins and 12 podiums in Caterham sports cars and Formula Renault last year.

Owen, also aged 20, started his motorsport career relatively late as a 15 year old, and by 2012 was winning karting events nationally. He progressed to US Formula 2000 and scored his first win at the Indianapolis road course in 2014.

This year he moved up to the Pro Mazda single seater championship and scored three podiums including two second places, to finish seventh overall.

“I was looking for some winter racing experience,” said Owen from his Fort Worth Texas base where he is studying business administration finance. “Race craft is what I need to improve the most. This will do the trick.”

“It’s my first international endeavour. I’ve never done anything like this,” said Owen, who is originally from Denver, Colorado.

“The amount of track time combined with the talent from around the globe is the combination that makes this series unlike any other.”

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