AUS: Toyota Racing Series round 5 preview

COLLINS COULD SEW UP INAUGURAL TOYOTA RACING SERIES AT MANFEILD Timaru driver Brent Collins will be looking to make the most of the opportunity to further extend his lead, and perhaps even win the inaugural Toyota Racing Series, when the new ...

COLLINS COULD SEW UP INAUGURAL TOYOTA RACING SERIES AT MANFEILD

Timaru driver Brent Collins will be looking to make the most of the opportunity to further extend his lead, and perhaps even win the inaugural Toyota Racing Series, when the new single seater class returns to Manfeild for the penultimate round of their six round series over the April 2-3 weekend.

Collins has carved a name for himself in New Zealand motor racing history this season, securing five race wins, setting lap records for this new class and being awarded the International Trophy. After the first four rounds, Collins has accumulated 758 points, giving him a lead of 148 points over second-placed Brendon Hartley, the highly regarded fifteen-year-old driver from Palmerston North, who has 610 points. Matthew Hamilton, a champion kart racer from Christchurch, holds third place with 602 points in his first season in a single seater race car.

With 75 points for a win, 67 points for second and 60 points for third, Collins' lead of 148 points gives him a handy, but not insurmountable buffer over Hartley. However Hartley will be looking to replicate or better his achievements in the previous round of the series, which was also at Manfeild, when Hartley delivered two strong wins on his home circuit and set two lap records. Hamilton is only eight points behind Hartley, so the 21-year-old from Christchurch with six national kart championship to his credit won't be giving up the fight for the Toyota Racing Series title just yet.

The Toyota Racing Series will be one of the highlights of the MotorSport New Zealand-sanctioned Tier Two event at Manfeild over the weekend of April 2 and 3, and Toyota Racing Management's Barrie Thomlinson says the drivers are honoured to be competing for the much-valued Dan Higgins Memorial Trophy.

"We have three races for the Toyota Tatuus cars this weekend -- one of 12 laps on Saturday, one of 12 laps on Sunday and a 20-lap race on Sunday afternoon, the winner of which will be awarded the Dan Higgins Trophy," says Thomlinson. "The prestigious Dan Higgins Memorial Trophy has been awarded to the overall winner of the Formula Ford round at Manfeild since 1975 and it's an honour for the Toyota Racing Series to be recognised by the Higgins family in this way. This trophy has been won by many well-known competitors over the years including Scott Dixon, Brett Riley, Kenny Smith and Richard Lester."

"I think, at this stage, that Brent Collins would need some bad luck not to be able to extend his lead in this series and he's sure to be focussed on delivering the best possible results at Manfeild," says Thomlinson, "However you can see that all the teams are really getting to grips with the Toyota-powered Tatuus race cars and the racing is sure to be even more competitive than it has been to date."

One of the features of the Toyota Racing Series is that the cars are identical not only in the chassis design and Michelin tyres that must be used, but also in regards the Toyota Celica 1800cc engines, which are built and maintained by one engine builder and sealed before delivery to the teams. Thomlinson adds:"The engines have delivered fantastic reliability to date and we fully expect to go through the entire season with the majority of the cars still running their original engine."

To do this in the first year of this class will be another goal achieved in providing a cost effective formula for NZ Motorsport.

Thomlinson finishes: "Something fun for race fans on Sunday will be a speed comparison test between a standard production Toyota Celica road car, my Championship winning Toyota Altezza race car and the Toyota Tatuus single seater race car. Chris Amon will drive the Celica, I'll drive my Altezza and we hope to have our official TRS test driver Matt Halliday available to drive the Toyota Tatuus. We're all looking forward to it; it's sure to be exciting to watch."

Following the fifth round at Manfeild on April 2 and 3, the Toyota Racing Series 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.

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