Kiwi driver Taylor Cockerton is confident heading to the first round of the 2017 Formula Masters China Series this weekend at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
"I'm super excited about racing this weekend at Sepang," commented Cockerton. "Given our progress at the pre-season test, I've got good confidence heading in to the opening round."
The Waikato University student will drive for the Cebu Pacific Air by PRT team in the five round series, having tested with them at the Sepang Circuit back in March.
"We had a really successful test with them," said Cockerton. "We went into it primarily to get used to the car, the team and the circuit. I'm really impressed with the team and their level of professionalism. It's really well organised with some top engineers.
"We only had two days (testing) but got a lot of mileage in. I was able to learn the Sepang track and found the car isn't too different to the FT 50 that we drove in the Toyota Racing Series."
Cockerton finished a solid seventh overall in the 2017 Castrol Toyota Racing Series (TRS) held at the beginning of the year. 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.
"The main difference is the Formula Masters car doesn't have as much aero so it is important to be aggressive (with the car) in the corners. They also run a mono-shock for the front suspension where the TRS car has a dual shock system which is easier for car setup changes. The tyres are different as well."
Cockerton and the other competitors will have 2 x 1 hour test sessions on Wednesday and Thursday (5-6 April) followed by practice and qualifying on Friday. The opening round has four 25-minute races at the Sepang Circuit with two on Saturday and two on Sunday.
"I'd love to win the round," said Cockerton. "That would be a big achievement. However, we don't know the other competitors at this stage so we will take it session by session.
"We need to get qualifying right as in TRS we didn't do this well. We need to maximise the use of new tyres better and convert this into results."