The Toyota Racing Series is holding its driver line-up cards close to its chest, but after a number of international names having been confirmed there's finally some good home news.
The first Kiwi driver is Te Puke's Michael Scott and he'll be part of the Nelson-based Victory Motorsport.
The 17-year-old is in his final year at Te Puke High School and is stepping up to the TRS championship after a competitive season this year in Formula First and Formula Ford.
The TRS gives young Kiwis the opportunity to match themselves against some of Europe's best up-and-coming drivers.
Twenty-one competitors from 12 countries contested the championship over five consecutive weekends in January and February this year. Next year will be the ninth season of TRS and will follow the same format, which enables drivers based in the Northern Hemisphere to compete in New Zealand during their off season.
"I'm keen to start my first wings and slicks season and am confident I'll be competitive with the support of Victory Motorsport," said Scott, who this year was second in the Formula Ford Championship and fourth in the Formula First series, winning the one-hour Formula First Grand Prix at Manfeild.
He was named Formula Ford rookie of the year.
Scott also competed in the Victorian Formula Ford series in Australia with results as good as fifth overall in fields of 40 cars.
"This was a great opportunity to get some more experience on tracks like Philip Island and Sandown during our off season," Scott said.
Another driver is Australian Spike Goddard, 20, who has risen through Formula Ford ranks in Australia and Britain, moving this year to wings and slicks cars and winning the national class in the British Formula 3 championship.
By entering next year's Toyota Racing Series he follows in the tracks of Australian TRS graduates who include multiple TRS race winner Scott Pye.
"This year has been very successful for me," Goddard said. "It was a difficult year at times, which I see as a good thing as it was a giant leap from Formula Ford to Formula 3.
"I believe that I have become a better driver because of pushing myself. I also believe that doing the national class instead of competing in the international class was the right decision for me, given that I did not have prior experience with aero, whereas virtually all the other drivers in British F3 were second-year F3 drivers or had competed in Formula Renault which also has aero."
Though he is not familiar with the circuits the series will visit, Goddard has the advantage of having raced against several of the drivers he will meet here.
"I'm hoping to use TRS to compete against some of the best young drivers from around the globe," he said.
"It will give me a comparison with some of the drivers that I will be competing against over the next few years for that ultimate goal, a seat in F1." In other Toyota Racing Series news, it has been announced that on the back of last year's success, next year's series will screen in New Zealand, Europe, Britain and Australia.
Producers said coverage would go out to a European audience on Motors TV, which broadcasts to 40 countries.
The new European package will run alongside Sky-Prime local programming, meaning that race fans in Europe will see each round of the series at the same time as New Zealanders.
2013 TRS dates
Round 1: Jan 10-13, Teretonga Park, Invercargill, Spirit of a Nation
Round 2: Jan 17-20, Timaru International Raceway, Timaru, Timaru Herald Trophy
Round 3: Jan 24-27 Taupo Motorsport Park, Taupo, Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy
Round 4: Feb 1-3 Hampton Downs, New Zealand Motor Cup
Round 5: Feb 7-10 Manfeild, Feilding, New Zealand Grand Prix (along with the Dan Higgins Trophy and Dorothy Smith Memorial Cup)By Eric Thompson