The Castrol Toyota Racing Series returns this weekend after a major shake-up on and off the track. The series has been won by F1 drivers Lando Norris and Lance Stroll and has featured a host of current F2 drivers, the likes of Artem Markelov, Callum Ilott and Robert Schwartzman using it as a stepping stone to the top spec series. Here’s all you need to know.
By Adam Dickinson
The most significant change is the decision last year by the FIA World Motorsport to allow development drivers to use results from the TRS towards their FIA Super Licence, which is needed to reach F1. This, along with its position at the start of the calendar year, has helped attract top talent from every continent. The cars are also radically different to last year, with a faster chassis, more powerful engines and a new improved tyre spec.
Red Bull Juniors
The biggest name addition is 19-year old Yuki Tsunoda, who joins the M2 Competition team whose drivers have won five of the last seven series. Tsunoda has recently been given an F2 seat with Carlin racing, and brings pedigree as a Red Bull Junior driver who finished 9th in last year’s Formula 3 Championship and won at Monza.
Reigning champion Liam Lawson is one of only three returning drivers, rejoining the M2 alongside Tsunoda. Lawson won five races last season, and following that impressive performance was signed to the Red Bull Junior programme.
While Lawson comes in with form from last year, he’ll face an old foe in Giles Motorsport’s biggest signing, Lirim Zendeli. The pair will rekindle a rivalry forged in 2018 ADAC Formula 4, where Zendeli finished first and Lawson second but over 100 points behind the German, taking three wins to Zendeli’s ten.
Petr Ptacek is the second returning driver in the field, although he’s switched from Giles to the rebranded mtec team; now mtec Motorsport engineered by R-ace GP. Ptacek finished eleventh last year, one place and thirteen points ahead of his new teammate at mtec, Jackson Walls. Walls returns following an impressive showing in F3 Asia, where he finished 6th with two podiums.
Kiwi Motorsport and M2 Competition
The final team on the grid is Kiwi Motorsport, who feature the last two Spanish F4 Champions in Amaury Cordeel and Franco Colapinto. Cordeel, winner in 2018, comes in race-ready having driven in round 2 of the Asian Winter Series, finishing tenth. He also competed in the 2018 ADAC Formula 4, as did Ido Cohen, who will race TRS 2020 for M2 Competition. Also in M2 overalls will be Emilien Denner, the Frenchman making his debut in open-wheeler racing, Rui Andrade who will become the first Angolan to drive in the series, now in its 16th edition.
Off the track the changes are even greater, with the cars having new chassis, engines and tyres. The Tatuus FT-60 is estimated to produce 25 percent more downforce than the previous FT-50, and is coupled with new 2.0L turbocharged Toyota engines producing 270 bhp, 70 more than last year. Finally Hankook Tires have become the tyre provider for the series, providing the same specification as used in the W Series and Formula Renault Eurocup.
Completing the M2 team is one of the 21-year old Brazilian Igor Fraga. He finished third in last year’s Formula Regional Championship, and Fraga told Feeder Series in Whatsapping With that he was gunning for victory in TRS.
At rivals Giles Motorsport 25-year old Swede Henning Enqvist, who has raced at Le Mans, and 20-year old Gregoire Saucy from Switzerland – another to come down the ADAC F4 pathway – add experience to the team.
Chelsea Herbert also joins Giles to become the sixth woman to race in the series, in what will be her first single-seater experience since karting. The last woman in the TRS before Herbert was Tatania Calderon, who was part of the BWT Arden Formula 2 team last year and held a test-driver role for Alfa Romeo F1. Calderon finished 12th in TRS in 2013.
Giles will also have 79-year old legend Ken Smith, ‘King Kenny’, in round 5.
Kiwi Motorsport (2)
Kiwi Motorsport also have question marks surrounding their driver lineup, they recently announced Tijmen van der Helm as their final entrant but he will only join in round 3, after he turns 16. Jose Blanco will take part in the first two rounds.
They’ve also signed Spike Kohlbecker, the American making the step up from New Zealand Formula 1600 where he raced three of the tracks on this year’s TRS. Completing the team is the second Swiss driver on the grid, Axel Gnos, who was the first driver to be announced on the series, back in October 2019.
mtec Motorsport (2)
Of the three remaining drivers in mtec Motorsport engineered by R-ace GP Lucas Petersson has the most experience, having finished 13th in British Formula 3 but 17-year old Caio Collet could be a name to look out for, having won French F4 in 2018 and finished and finished fifth in Formula Renault Eurocup. Oliver Rasmussen completes the grid; the Dane’s best result is 7th in Italian F4.
The calendar has also had a reshuffle, with lights out a week later than previous years, and the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo replaced in round four 4 by the Pukekohe Park Raceway. The new arrival is a high-speed track with the majority of corners medium or high-speed, and fewer heavy braking zones than its predecessor.
Round 1: Highlands 17-19 Jan 2020
Round 2: Teretonga 24-26 Jan 2020
Round 3: Hampton Downs 31 Jan – 2 Feb 2020
Round 4: Pukekohe 7-9 Feb 2020
Round 5: Manfeild – Circuit Chris Amon 14-16 Feb 2020
Super Licence Points
1st: 10 points
2nd: 7 points
3rd: 5 points
4th: 3 points
5th: 1 point
Entry List Round 1
Round 1: Highlands Motorsport Park (CET+12)
Thursday 16th January
9.05am – 9.25am: First Timers Test Session Group A
9.30am – 9.50am: First Timers Test Session Group B
1.15pm – 1.55pm: Test Session 1
3.45pm – 4.25pm: Test Session 2
Friday 17th January
10.40am – 11.10am: Practice 1
2.05pm – 2.35pm: Practice 2
4.20pm – 4.50pm: Practice 3
Saturday 18th January
10.55am – 11.10am: Qualifying 1
4.00pm: Race 1 (15 laps)
Sunday 19th January
9.25am – 9.40am: Qualifying 2
12.10pm: Race 2 (15 laps)
4.20pm: Race 3 (20 laps) Dorothy Smith Memorial Cup