AUS: Toyota Racing Series round 4 preview

NORTH ISLAND RACE FANS TO SEE TOYOTA RACING SERIES FOR FIRST TIME Motorsport fans heading for Manfeild in Feilding for the top-billing Mike Pero MotorSport Series on February 19 and 20 will get to see the exciting new Toyota Racing Series for...

NORTH ISLAND RACE FANS TO SEE TOYOTA RACING SERIES FOR FIRST TIME

Motorsport fans heading for Manfeild in Feilding for the top-billing Mike Pero MotorSport Series on February 19 and 20 will get to see the exciting new Toyota Racing Series for the first time.

Brand-new on the New Zealand motorsport calendar, the Toyota Racing Series has certainly proved popular with racing fans during the first three of their six round series which were all held on South Island circuits.

The 'wings and slicks' class features a carbon fibre FIA F3 design race car made by Italian manufacturers Tatuus powered by an 1800cc Toyota engine developing 210 brake horsepower.

At the season's outset organisers rated several of the 17 entrants capable of winning the series, but it's been relatively unknown Timaru driver Brent Collins who's surprised many. Collins, who hadn't raced a single seater for four years before he stepped into the Toyota Tatuus for the first time in January, has won at least one race at each round to hold the lead on the points table as the Toyota Racing Series heads to Manfeild.

The Toyota Racing Management team headed by Barrie and Louise Thomlinson manage the whole series on behalf of major sponsors Toyota New Zealand.

Barrie Thomlinson says the Toyota Racing Series features a series within a series.

"The Manfeild round is the final of our International Trophy series, which comprises the first four rounds of this year's series. The International Trophy can be won by any competitor, local or international, and is basically designed to allow competitors from the Northern Hemisphere to race in New Zealand for a compact period of time."

Brent Collins has secured the most points, 578, in the first three rounds and has a lead of 72 points over second-placed Matthew Hamilton from Christchurch, so it is quite possible for a driver other than Collins to win the International Trophy at Manfeild, according to Thomlinson who comments:

"With 75 points for first place, 67 for second and 60 for third, it all depends on driver performance on the day and Matthew Hamilton has been impressing with his mature approach to delivering sound results with the aim of winning this series."

Thomlinson adds: "These cars will provide fast and extremely close racing at Manfeild as it provides many overtaking opportunities."

In third place with 478 points is Daniel Gaunt from Auckland and competing on his home circuit for the first time this season, is fourth-placed Palmerston North local Brendon Hartley. Hartley is obviously familiar with the three-kilometre Manfeild circuit and could be expected to have some advantage over Collins who is more familiar with the South Island circuits. Hartley, who is the youngest driver in the field at age 15, won the first-ever Toyota Racing Series race when the series commenced at Timaru in January.

Rounding out the top five after three rounds is Aucklander Wade Cunningham with 424 points. A world champion in karts in 2003, Cunningham is yet another young driver being watched with interest by international teams as he competes in this inaugural Toyota Racing Series. Cunningham spent the early part of February in the United States testing with one of the Menards Infinity Pro teams, an American series regarded as a feeder class for the Indy Racing League in which Kiwi Scott Dixon competes with such distinction.

"There has been considerable interest expressed by international teams about particular drivers in the Toyota Racing Series," says Thomlinson. "It just shows where some of these talented guys could go and fulfils one of our original ambitions with this series, namely to provide up-and-coming drivers with an important opportunity to further their racing careers. I think we're already seeing just how strongly the Toyota Racing Series is being regarded by local and international talent-spotters as an important class for these guys to be in."

The Toyota drivers compete in three races at Manfeild, one of 12 laps on Saturday afternoon, another of 12 laps on Sunday morning, then a final race of 16 laps on Sunday afternoon. Qualifying for the Toyotas is at 10:00 am Saturday morning.

The Toyota Racing Series returns to Manfeild for the fifth round of their series on April 2 & 3, then participates in the grand finale of the Mike Pero MotorSport Series as part of the Placemakers V8 Supercar event at Pukekohe on April 15, 16 and 17.

-fast company-

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About this article
Series Road racing
Drivers Scott Dixon , Barrie Thomlinson , Matthew Hamilton , Daniel Gaunt , Brendon Hartley
Teams Toyota Racing