The Toyota Racing Series will return to Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell in summer as the series skips its regular visit to Ruapuna in Christchurch.

The 3.9km track will host the first round of the five-week single-seater championship next January 10-13.

The remaining four rounds continue as they did last year with the series shifting to Teretonga (Invercargill), Hampton Downs (North Waikato) and Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo in successive weeks before finishing with the New Zealand Grand Prix at Circuit Chris Amon, Manfeild, on February 7-10.

"We didn't necessarily want to move away from Ruapuna," Toyota NZ motorsport manager Mark Whittaker told the Weekend Herald. "Highlands had been highly regarded when we used it five years ago and the drivers liked it. All of the drivers want to shift the series back a week and with clashes with track hire it became a real conundrum to fit it all in.


"This year it just worked out that this was the optimum way of doing things."

Ruapuna remains in the mix to return on the 2020 calendar as do the other major New Zealand circuits — Pukekohe Park Raceway and Levels Raceway near Timaru.

"All of the tracks are a possibility," Whittaker said. "At some point we will go back and test at Pukekohe. It has been a bit too bumpy there in places for TRS cars in the past but they have done some work there so we will go back and test."

Speed Works Events, which promotes the entire MotorSport NZ Championship, has locked in dates for summer's eight rounds as well as the schedule for the following three years.

The BNT V8s, PORTERGROUP V8 Utes, TradeZone GTRNZ, Formula 1600, Hi-Q Components Formula First, North and South Island Pro7 Series, the Porsche Championships, respective muscle car series, Castrol BMW Race Driver Series and the Toyota 86 Championship will be part of the championship.