Bonilla heading to NZ to begin 2024 season
Castrol Toyota FR Oceania team Kiwi Motorsport has confirmed Texan Jake Bonilla as its first signing for the 2024 New Zealand-based championship.
Twenty one year old Bonilla has undergone extensive FR testing with Kiwi Motorsport in 2023 and took his first win in the emerging Formula Pro F3 USA Championship at Sonoma Raceway this year.
Jake’s path to racing was unusual in that he had no previous karting experience prior to competing in the 2020 F4 US Championship, in which he had multiple top 10 finishes. In 2021, he entered his second F4 season in the US Championship and improved his racing results to include multiple top five finishes.
He was awarded the Hard Charger Trophy for the 2022 season as he finished 8th overall in the highly competitive USFJuniors “Road to Indy” series prior to focusing on FR Testing in 2023. He made an impressive debut in the Formula Regional Americas Championship recently too, finishing fifth at the Circuit of the Americas against much more experienced opposition.
Looking forward to a season in one of the world’s most competitive Formula Regional and Junior Formula Championships, Bonilla explained: “I’m focussed on developing my racing skills against elite international competition and the New Zealand championship gives me that opportunity,” he said.
“It allows me to challenge myself at a high level and compete for wins giving myself and my sponsors exposure in the process.”
“The seat time is extensive too, which will allow me to be well prepared for a run in the 2024 FR Americas Championship later in the year.”
Bonilla’s 2024 season will begin at the FIA Grade 2 Taupo Motorsport Park before rounds at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon and Hampton Downs, both in New Zealand’s North Island.
The fourth round takes place at the Euromarque Motorsport Park just outside of Christchurch in the South Island. The season concludes with the 68th New Zealand Grand Prix event at the Highlands Motorsport Park, the first time the GP has been held in the South Island since 2007.
Kiwi Motorsport boss Garry Orton is looking forward to working with Bonilla, adding: “I’m excited to have Jake come down to NZ.
“At the end of 2022 Jake tested our FR car in the states which is when he committed to our NZ championship. This will be a great training ground for him to prepare for the 2024 USA championship. Jake has already done a season in F4 and picked up our last FR round at COTA where he showed good pace.”
In its 18 year history, New Zealand’s premier single seater championship has produced more than 21 drivers who have gone on to test or compete in official Formula 1 events, including Lance Stroll, Lando Norris, Yuki Tsunoda, Guanyu Zhou and Liam Lawson in the current field. It also counts Indycar racers Santino Ferruci and Marcus Armstrong amongst its alumni.