Kiwi teen with ambition to drive at Formula One level sets sights on TRS championship

Youngster Marcus Armstrong will lead the Kiwi charge over the next five weeks of the Toyota Racing Series which begins at Ruapuna in Christchurch this weekend.

The 16-year-old Armstrong has earned a place in the highly-respected Ferrari Driver Academy and has an ambitions to drive in Formula One.

Now living in Europe, he heads to New Zealand this summer to compete in the premier domestic championship for the first time with a simple goal - winning the crown.

"I always go into an event or series with high expectations," said Armstrong.

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"Even though the series in Europe didn't finish until mid-December I will still feel a little rusty on the first few laps.

"I haven't driven the car before but it shouldn't be too dissimilar to the British F3 cars that I drove earlier last season.

"I don't think adjusting to the new car will be too much of an issue because there is so much track time leading into the Ruapuna - with three days of testing there."

The TRS schedule

Jan 14-15:

Ruapuna

(Christchurch)

.

Jan 21-22: Teretonga (Invercargill).
Jan 28-29: Hampton Downs (North Waikato).
Feb 4-5: Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park (Taupo).
Feb 11-12: Chris Amon Motorsport Park (Manfeild).

The Toyota Racing Series has attracted a number of the most talented up-and-coming drivers from around the world.

Last year's champion Lando Norris is already working with the McLaren F1 team and is expected to go a long way in the sport. He withdrew from competing in New Zealand this summer to focus on his year ahead in Europe but Armstrong will continue a rivalry with many other competitors he has seen in Europe.

"A lot of the guys I have already raced against in Formula Renault. It is not a new thing for me to be competing against them.

"It is disappointing that Lando pulled out - he would have been strong and it would have been good to be teammates with him for sure," said Armstrong.

"Jehan [Daruvala], [Pedro] Piquet and [Ferdinand] Habsburg will be strong no doubt.

"I haven't raced Piquet before but I have had quite a bit of experience racing against Ferdinand and Jehan so that will be good."

Marcus Armstrong. Photo / Edwin Nieuwenhuis
Marcus Armstrong. Photo / Edwin Nieuwenhuis

Armstrong said the Toyota Racing Series' reputation is strong and that it is the number one off-season choice for the best racers in Europe.

"That is the reason why all the top young guns come down here. It is just a coincidence that I am a Kiwi. The cars are fantastic from what I've heard, the tyre is good and there are a lot of strong drivers.

"It is probably the best winter championship for Europeans."

Invercargill driver Brendon Leitch, 21, is another New Zealand driver expected to do well.

Toyota Racing Series

1800CC engines, 6 speed transaxle with sequential paddle gearshift.

Only class in New Zealand offering aspiring racers experience with wings, slicks and composite technologies.

The identical specification of the FT 50 cars makes for the closest possible racing, placing an emphasis on the drivers' ability under all conditions.

Most of the outright lap records on New Zealand's racetracks are held by TRS cars.

This will be the Southlander's fourth tilt at the series but it is the first time he has known weeks ahead of the season that he has a full budget to go head to head with the international stars that come to New Zealand to compete.

"Thanks to the support of long-time sponsor ITM I have a full budget for the first time ever and I am ready to rock," said Leitch.