While most championships are in the process of closing for this year, the New Zealand-based Toyota Racing Series is busy revving up for its ninth season next month.
Commencing during the second week of January at Teretonga Park, 18-year-old Kiwi Nick Cassidy returns to the series to defend his crown against a growing international field.
Leading the charge against Cassidy will be Formula 3 race winners Alex Lynn and Felix Serralles – both of whom will be charged for action after finding success this year.
Cassidy took five wins and another five podiums on his way to the title last year, eventually securing the crown some distance clear of series runner-up Hannes van Asseldonk; however the Kiwi’s brief stint in the Eurocup Formula Renault series ended after only three rounds.
Having running incomplete campaigns in 2011 and 2012 respectively, Lynn and Serralles return to take the fight to the reigning champion.
For the F3 pair, the Toyota Racing Series will serve a more than adequate taster for what will be a busy season for them – both are set to challenge for the FIA European F3 Championship this year.
Last season’s highest placed rookie, Lucas Auer, also makes his reappearance in the New Zealand fold, after finishing runner-up in Germany’s ATS Formula 3 Cup. If nothing else, it may make for a tantalising battle between the top four quick men.
Several other Formula 3 drivers will be joining the quartet on the grid during the five round championship led by Fortec’s Pipo Derani.
Other F3 competitors lining up at Teretonga will be Tatiana Calderon, Nicholas Latifi and Spike Goddard. Formula Renault NEC racers Tanart Sathienthirakul and Steijn Schothorst are also joining the fray, as is Nissan GT Academy graduate Jann Mardenborough.
Making up the rest of the field will be Akesh Neil Nandy (JK Racing Asia Series), 2012 German Kart Champion Dennis Olsen and Bruno Bonifacio (Formula Abarth). Toyota Racing Series regular Damon Leitch returns after a relatively quiet year, while Formula Ford racers Ryan Cullen and Michael Scott will also make the jump to slicks-and-wings next year. It is expected more drivers will join the series in the coming few weeks.
The Toyota Racing Series also boasts a vastly improved television package for 2013, bringing the show to screens outside of Australasia for the first time. Beyond their Australia / New Zealand broadcast package, the series has also secured slots for each round with Motors TV, bringing the championship to Europe for the first time.
9–13 Jan Teretonga Park, Invercargill 17–20 Jan Timaru International Motor Raceway, Timaru 24–27 Jan Taupo Motorsport Park, Taupo 31 Jan–3 Feb Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Waikato 7–10 Feb New Zealand Grand Prix, Manfeild Autocourse, Feilding