TOYOTA GAZOO Racing New Zealand’s FT-60 Castrol TRS racing car has officially been homologated (approved for sale) by the FIA as a Formula regional car and engine combination.
The homologation is the last link in the chain that will allow it to be used in two forthcoming rounds of the W Series on the Grand Prix support card for Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain and Suzuka, Japan, later this year.
It is the first time any international junior formulae have shared cars in this way, enabling the use of sea, as opposed to air freight, and keeping the all-women championship’s carbon footprint as low as possible.
The W Series uses identical Tatuus chassis to the TRS Championship, but with different engines.
With homologation now complete, the fleet of 18 cars currently in the UK at the W Series base are being prepared and liveried for the two big race weekends.
They will travel by truck from their temporary UK base to Barcelona this month and will be installed in the F1 paddock on May 16.
They will take to the track for the first practice and qualifying sessions on the Friday and will race on Saturday ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.
The cars will then be returned to the UK base for preparation ahead of shipping for the Suzuka event.
Once that is completed they will return to New Zealand for full preparation prior to the Castrol Toyota Racing Series championship beginning in January 2023.
It is the first time that junior formula categories have worked together to stage a championship in such a way.
It is a busy and unique period for TGRNZ staff and Castrol TRS Category manager and Motorsport manager Nicolas Caillol, who has been in Miami over the weekend at the Grand Prix seeing how the W Series works ahead of the introduction of the New Zealand cars.
Caillol will also use his time abroad to reconnect with championships including British F4, Road to Indy, FRECA and Spanish F4 in May, the Road to Indy and F4/F3 Americas in July, FRECA, British, French, Spanish and Italian F4 and EuroFormula in September.
"It's great to be back and taking the show on the road as we start the countdown to 2023," says Caillol.
"Obviously the W Series project will be a big part of the season and we would hope to attract several drivers from that as they will have the distinct advantage of having done two race weekends in our NZ cars anyway.”
TGRNZ is planning a full return to 'normal' for the international championship that was last run with international drivers at the beginning of 2020, just prior to the Covid-19 related travel restrictions in New Zealand and elsewhere were introduced.
There will be five race consecutive weekends for the 20 drivers who will contest the 2023 TRS championship, with events in New Zealand's North and South Islands.
The five weekend schedule will conclude with the 68th running of the New Zealand Grand Prix, which remains one of only two events outside of the Formula One championship to be recognised as an official Grand Prix by the FIA (Along with the Macau GP).
The championship will once again see its four regular independent teams running identical factory prepared Tatuus based Toyota FT-60 cars.
"As well as generating interest abroad, it's also great that we have been able to retain the four teams we have in New Zealand who run these cars and provide engineering jobs at that time of year," says Caillol.
"All of our teams have engineers they retain or bring in for the championship who have worked at the highest levels of motorsport, so these young drivers will be in good hands.
"The championship has always proved popular as a stepping stone to a successful season in the Northern hemisphere and that will continue. For some they will secure points that will mean a big step towards securing a Super Licence to allow them to test or drive in their chosen categories."
Calendar details with dates and venues for the January/February championship will be released soon, with TGRNZ already taking enquiries from drivers and junior driver programmes around the world.