Taupo: Team New Zealand preview

JUNIOR TEAM TOYOTAS JOIN 'BLACK BEAUTY' ON TRACK AT TAUPO THIS WEEKEND The A1Team.NZL Junior Development team's Tatuus Toyotas get to join A1Team.NZL's Lola Zyteks at a track for the first time at the inaugural New Zealand A1GP World Cup of ...

JUNIOR TEAM TOYOTAS JOIN 'BLACK BEAUTY' ON TRACK AT TAUPO THIS WEEKEND

The A1Team.NZL Junior Development team's Tatuus Toyotas get to join A1Team.NZL's Lola Zyteks at a track for the first time at the inaugural New Zealand A1GP World Cup of Motorsport meeting at the Taupo Motorsport Park this weekend.

The two Toyota Racing Series cars in the hands of defending champion and 2006/07 championship points leader Daniel Gaunt and top rookie Shane Van Gisbergen are on track for testing today.

And former World Karting Champion and 2005 US Indy Pro Series champion Wade Cunningham will give the #1 Lola Zytek A1GP car (dubbed Black Beauty) it's first run round the full 3.5km 'international' circuit tomorrow morning, before the team's Taupo driver Jonny Reid takes over for qualifying on Saturday and the two A1GP races on Sunday.

This weekend marks the first chance for the Senior and Junior teams to compete together at the same meting and both Junior team drivers are looking forward to the opportunity.

Not just because they can share in some of the 'home team' advantage either.

Many of the teams running A1GP national squads also run their own cars in the World GP2 category, so for most of the locally-based Toyota Racing Series drivers, the Taupo meeting offers a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to 'strut-their-stuff' in front of some of the most influential people in world motorsport.

"Obviously," says Gaunt," their main focus this weekend will be on A1GP but they'll definitely be people checking out the Toyota Racing Series. There's a lot of interest in it round the world, partly I think because of the number of drivers like myself now using it as a springboard to racing either in the US or Europe."

Gaunt, heads into this weekend's round of the Toyota Racing Series at the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport meeting leading the 2006/07 Toyota Racing Series points standings after dominating the first round, playing a percentages game to increase his points lead at the second then claiming the prestigious Lady Wigram Trophy (for a second time) at the third.

Though round three pace-setter Ben Harford has managed to slightly reduce Gaunt's points lead, the 22-year-old from Auckland remains the man to beat in the series and again heads into this weekend's racing the favourite.

Teammate Shane Van Gisbergen is also expected to make another big impression, the precociously talented 17-year-old far and away the best rookie in the Toyota Racing Series so far this season.

At the third round of the series (a fortnight ago at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools International Raceway) he achieved one of his 2006/07 series goals by running with the established stars (Gaunt, Harford, Hamad Al Fardan and Ben Clucas) in qualifying and all four races, gaining a round best fourth in the Lady Wigram Trophy final after a race-long battle with reigning Australian Formula 3 champion Clucas.

Adding extra interest to the Toyota Racing Series field at Taupo this weekend are 19-year-old Italian Edoardo Piscopo and Australian A1GP team reserve driver Bart Mawer.

Piscopo, highly rated in European Formula Renault 2.0, is here for the the Toyota series' international 'series-within-a-series' while Mawer, 24, was runner-up in the 2003 Australian Formula 3 Championship and will take over the European Technique Toyota usually run by 16-year-old Australian Lucas Dumbrell.

There will be three races for the Toyota Racing Series teams this weekend, one on Friday, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

The A1GP cars qualify on Saturday and have a 20 minute sprint and 70 minute feature race on Sunday.

For the Toyota Racing Series there is then a break of just under a month until the fifth round (of eight) at the Manfeild Autocourse in Feilding.

-credit: team new zealand

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Ben Clucas , Wade Cunningham , Daniel Gaunt , Jonny Reid
Teams Toyota Racing