Photo: Toyota Racing Series/Bruce Jenkins
A big weekend lies ahead in New Zealand, where the fifth and final round of the Toyota Racing Series takes place, concluding with the New Zealand Grand Prix…
Together with the prestigous Macau Grand Prix, the New Zealand Grand Prix is the only FIA-sanctioned national Grand Prix outside of Formula 1. First run in 1950, this weekend sees the 57th running of the event. The 35 lap race will form the third and final race of the weekend at Manfeild Park, which itself is the fifth and final race weekend of the Toyota Racing Series.
The TRS title is still up for grabs, although 17-year-old Aucklander Nick Cassidy has a healthy lead over Dutchman Hannes van Asseldonk. Cassidy will be amongst the favourites for the NZGP title, but his number one aim this weekend is likely to be to bank the points needed for the TRS title.
Mitch Evans won the NZGP last year, though hasn’t been contesting the full TRS campaign this time around. He returned for the Hampton Downs round last weekend in preparation for his NZGP defence, and was promptly on the pace. He won the first of the three races, and then finished second to Cassidy in race three. Retaining the NZGP title will be perfect for Evans, before he returns to Europe for testing ahead of his title challenge in GP3 this year.
Another man keen for glory will be Josh Hill. Currently fourth in the TRS standings, the British driver will hope to add his name to the New Zealand Grand Prix trophy. The son of 1996 world champion Damon Hill, his grandfather Graham won the NZGP in 1965 and 1966 around a time when it was won by a host of F1 drivers such as Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, John Surtees, Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart.
And finally, probably worth a mention too is Ken Smith. We’re certainly more keen on young driving talent here at PaddockScout, but 69-year-old Kiwi racing legend Smith has secured a late deal with ETEC Motorsport to once again take on the race that he won in 1976, 1990 and 2004.