2022 Castrol Toyota Racing Series taking shape – South Island return confirmed
Plans are taking shape for the 18th season of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing NZ has this week confirmed the championship will begin mid-January and will include a return to the South Island.
The 67th New Zealand Grand Prix will also once again be the feature event of the championship and once final discussions and planning with promoter Speedworks Events and MotorSport New Zealand have concluded, selected circuits will be confirmed.
"We are open for business for 2022 and inviting drivers at home and abroad to get their expressions of interest to us nice and early," explained Category Manager Nicolas Caillol.
"Things are taking shape nicely and we are very much looking forward to a South Island return. The FT60 fleet is currently in preparation for the 2022 season with all cars undergoing full engine and gearbox rebuilds for what will be their third season – and second full season – of racing.
“We are also running regular test days for New Zealand and Australian drivers who are looking to take part. So it's all go for 2022."
The championship will again be a recognised event with MBIE and with a year's worth of MIQ process development behind the country, it is expected there will be a number of drivers from the international junior formulae scene keen to travel to New Zealand and go through an MIQ process before taking part in the championship.
"There's no shortage of interest and we have a much longer run in period this year so we are very confident we'll have a number of internationals in addition to drivers from Australia, who will hopefully be able to travel quarantine-free to New Zealand," added Caillol.
The highlight of the 2021 COVID-shortened season was an historic 66th New Zealand Grand Prix at Hampton Downs won by Shane van Gisbergen. The event proved to be a massive hit with fans and drivers, with even more interest in the 2022 event.
"The Grand Prix was watched all over the world in 2021 and that was good for the championship's future as a whole," said Caillol.
"Combined with the relative normality of life in New Zealand compared to the rest of the world, TRS remains - perhaps even more so in the current global climate - the best way to prepare for the main season with a competitive winter series. It is still the best value mileage for budget FIA recognised championship on offer during the off-season for European and American drivers.
The championship has FIA Super Licence points on offer and a stellar record in hosting drivers who have gone on to either test or race in the Formula One World Championship. No fewer than seven former graduates of the championship will be in action at this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix - former champs Lando Norris and Lance Stroll, Yuki Tsunoda, Nicholas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin as well as practice session debutants Callum Illott and Guanyu Zhou.
Thomas Randle is the most recent TRS champion to secure a full-time drive in Supercars, which also includes other graduates such as 66th NZ Grand Prix podium finishers Shane van Gisbergen and Andre Heimgartner plus Macauley Jones and Scott Pye who completed previous full seasons. With TRS drivers able to score 10 of the 13 required Super Licence points towards the Supercars championship, NZ’s top domestic motorsport championship remains an attractive pathway to the Australian main-game.
Former TRS drivers have also made the grade impressively in the US motorsport scene, with Santino Ferrucci carving out a career in IndyCar and Spike Kohlbecker, Billy Frazer and Peter Vodanovich all currently racing in USF2000 as part of the Road To Indy programme – with which the Castrol TRS category has an active partnership.