Pukekohe's Taylor Cockerton will compete in the 2017 Formula Masters China Series and will shortly head to Malaysia to test at the Sepang International Circuit.

The Waikato University student has signed with the Cebu Pacific Air by PRT team and will compete in the five round series that gets underway in Sepang 7-9 April 2017.

"I'm really excited about this opportunity," said Cockerton. "We feel this is the next series that we should move to and the team has been one of the front runners in the category so we have good confidence working with them."

Cockerton finished a solid seventh overall in the 2017 Castrol Toyota Racing Series held at the beginning of the year. It's been a season full of improvements for the driver. In his second season racing in TRS, Cockerton improved on his ninth overall in 2016. From fifteen races he finished 12 times in the top ten, three of those in the top five and with only one race retirement.

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The two-day Formula Masters test in Malaysia will give him time to adapt to both the car, the track and weather conditions in Sepang. The circuit hosts the first two rounds before the series heads to the Zhuhai International Circuit in China for the third and fourth rounds with the finale at the Shanghai International Circuit in September.

"The biggest challenge will be getting used to the different circuits. Here in NZ the tracks are tight and quick with little run off. Sepang is a modern circuit, wide and with plenty of run off."

The Formula Masters car is not too dissimilar to the FT 50 Toyota Racing Series car previously driven by Cockerton.

"It has a similar chassis, built from the same manufacturer Taatus in Italy. It's powered by a 2.0 litre VW engine generating about 190hp compared with over 200hp from the Toyota. It has similar dual shock suspension on the front and rear and we will be racing on a similar tyre compound."

The Cebu Pacific Air by PRT team are thrilled to have Cockerton on board, having already taken fellow Kiwi James Munro to a series win in 2014.

"Taylor comes to us highly recommended," commented John O'Hara from Cebu Pacific Air by PRT. "We have watched his progress in the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand and we are excited to see him in one of our cars. The team is looking forward to meeting him in Sepang next week to kick off our testing program ahead of the first event next month."

I'm going in there with a lot of confidence with the experience gained in two successful seasons in a very competitive TRS championship," said Cockerton. "I want to win races and the championship but we will take every race as it comes, making step by step progress."