New Zealand's premier "open-wheel" race category, the Toyota Racing Series, has announced its 2013 calendar and already the first international drivers are signing on to compete alongside rising Kiwi race talent.
Entering its ninth season, the series has continued to increase its European profile year by year, with graduate racers excelling in a wide variety of categories offshore.
This continues to fulfil the TRS mission of acting as an incubator for talented drivers from New Zealand and overseas, giving them invaluable training and experience in "wings and slicks" race cars as they look to develop their international careers.
Toyota Racing Series category manager Barrie Thomlinson says the series has earned a strong reputation in the motor racing world "which is something we can all be immensely proud of".
"It has taken some time to develop but we are now firmly on the radar for many young up-and-coming racing drivers and their teams from around the globe," he says.
"Responding to strong feedback from drivers, teams and managers, the 2013 series will once again follow our established successful format which features 15 races over five consecutive race weekends."
The five-round championship starts on January 10-13 at Invercargill's Teretonga Park, the southernmost permanent motor race venue in the world. The feature race will be contested over 20 laps for the Spirit of a Nation Cup.
The series then heads to Queenstown then Timaru the following weekend, before arriving in Taupo to contest the feature, Denny Hulme Memorial Cup.
Then it's on to New Zealand's newest race track, Hampton Downs in the north Waikato, where the TRS feature race winner is presented with the NZ Motor Cup, one of the oldest trophies contested in New Zealand motorsport.
The series culminates with the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild, which also sees racers compete for the Dan Higgins Trophy and the Dorothy Smith Memorial Cup. The New Zealand Grand Prix is one of only two FIA-recognised national Grand Prix titles not raced within Formula One.