Tag Archives: Toyota Racing Series




The 18 year old, won the 2012 GP3 Championship with MW Arden, scoring 3 wins, 4 poles and 6 podiums over the season. Evans entered onto the European circuit in 2010 with MW Arden in the GP3 Series and finished 9th. In 2010 he won the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand, with 3 wins, 8 poles and 10 podiums at only 16 years old.

Arden, Sporting Director, Julian Rouse, comments: “We are delighted to have Mitch move up to GP2 and stay with the Arden team. We have a great relationship with him, and have seen him grow in the last two years in a Championship that was created to bring great drivers into GP2 Series. We tested Mitch at the Barcelona and Jerez tests at the end of last year and were encouraged by his performance  especially as he was in the top 10 with drivers who have several years GP2 experience. Also with everyone at Arden knowing Mitch so well, I am sure we can develop him as a front running GP2 driver very quickly and efficiently.”

Mitch Evans comments: “Firstly I’d like the thank Arden for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to drive with them in GP2 after two greats years in GP3, I want to thank Mark Webber and Ann Neal and everyone behind the scenes that have made this possible, I am hugely grateful for the chance to race in the GP2 series. I have full trust in the team that they will give me the best opportunity to have a successful rookie season. I can not wait for the season to get underway.”

Arden International Press Release

Motorsports Mondial


At the Le Mans Test Day, the 56 cars invited to participate in the 80th edition of Les 24 Heures du Mans were able to make their final preparations for the actual race in two weeks time. Although, the timing was not official, at the end of the eight-hour test session it was Audi and Toyota LM P1 cars heading the classification. It was extremely close with the fastest cars separated by no more than a second. The same was true of the LM P2 and GTE classes, where again there were small margins between the leading cars. While all drivers had to run an obligatory ten laps to qualify, the main body of attention was on the large number of competitors experiencing the Circuit de la Sarthe for the first time.

As expected, the fastest lap times were set by the powerful LM P1 cars. After the four-hour morning session the top five cars were within one second of each other with the Audi of Loïc Duval just out in front. Rolex Ambassador Tom Kristensen was second fastest in the Audi Hybrid: “The car with its four wheel drive did wonderfully. In the morning we had some rain and that’s when you love Quattro technology.” The team from Toyota was surprisingly fast despite no previous experience at Le Mans. Former Formula 1 driver Sébastien Buemi from Switzerland adapted quickly, and came up only half a second short of the fastest lap on his first visit to the historic track. In the second session it was Audi’s Allan McNish who set the fastest time of the day, beating teammate Marcel Faessler by over a second. Alexander Würz was the best Toyota driver setting the fourth fastest time. Elsewhere in LM P1 group, the Strakka Racing Honda set a satisfyingly fast time in the morning, while the Lola-Toyota did well in the afternoon. Peter Dumbreck, one of the drivers of the debuting JRM team was just happy to have qualified: “This is all new to our team, but together with Brabham and Chandhok we made it without too many problems.”

In the LM P2 class there was a close battle too. Both in the morning and afternoon sessions, Nissan powered cars topped the timing charts, but were less than a second faster than the Honda powered prototypes. Although an overall winner here in the past, Martin Brundle could not deliver the speed he would have hoped for today. The 1988 Rolex 24 At Daytona and 1990 Les 24 Heures du Mans winner is partnered by his son Alex along with Spanish sports car veteran Lucas Ordonez, and, it was the younger Brundle, making his debut, who shone the brightest. Two Dutch drivers also making their first appearance at Le Mans had contrasting experiences. Yelmer Buurman in the Status Grand Prix Lola was among the faster cars, while Reiner van der Zande’s run was hampered by small electrical problems throughout the test; problems that kept the second Lola-Lotus in the pits for most of the day. Running in its own experimental class, the futuristic designed Nissan Delta Wing ran without major problems and set times comparable to the LM P2 cars.

In the morning the Ferraris once more showed their speed in the GTE Pro class as Frédéric Makowiecki stayed just ahead of former Formula 1 legend Giancarlo Fisichella. However, in the afternoon it was one of the yellow Corvettes driven by American Tommy Milner that led the classification. Another rookie to suffer a set-back today was Milner’s compatriot and fellow-Corvette driver, Jordan Taylor, who had the misfortune to crash his car late on: “I came in directly from Detroit where I won the GT class in the Detroit Rolex GRAND-AM Series race. I made my ten laps to qualify without problems, but lost it on the 12th lap.”

In the GTE Am class the Aston Martin with an all-Danish line were top of the time sheet closely followed by the Larbre Competition Corvette and the Flying Lizard Porsche. American Ferrari driver Brian Vickers enjoyed his first laps on the track, even though it was raining during part of his time behind the wheel: “In the beginning I had to find the right line and paid a lot of attention to the faster cars. After a couple of laps, I got the right feeling and lap times dropped significantly.” Later in the day, disaster almost struck as his partner Rui Aguas spun the Ferrari and damaged its bodywork.

All 56 qualified teams will now stay in Le Mans with initial scrutineering starting this coming Saturday. Practice for the 80th edition of this classic event begins on Wednesday, 13 June. Just three days later, on Saturday, 16 June the competing grid will get the green flag when the Rolex official timing clock shows three o’clock in the afternoon. 

Motorsports Mondial

 Shahaan Éngineer

 Photo. Shahaan Éngineer Facebook page

Shahaan Engineer is a 16-year-old racer from Mumbai. He is currently testing with Fortec Motorsports in preparation for the Michelin Formula Renault UK Series.

F1weekly would like to wish him continued success in his racing career, and thank him for answering our questions while on active racing service in New Zealand last month.

Q. How is the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand going for you?

A. It’s going very well and I am getting some amazing experience against some of the top drivers in the world from many categories, all the way up to GP2. I think this is the only series in which such a broad range of experienced drivers can compete together.

Q: A1GP raced at Taupo, looks like a beautiful location?

A. It’s the nicest location of a racing circuit I’ve been to so far, especially because of the stunning lake nearby and the wide variety of activities one can take part in like parasailing and water skiing.

Q: You also took part in the recent Formula Renault ‘Finals Series’ in UK; please compare the two cars and depth of competition in each series?

A. They are very similar actually and I would say the Toyota Racing Series car has more power than a Formula Renault. I have also been told that the top speed is more than an F3 car.

The Formula Renault UK ‘Finals Series’ had nearly a full grid of 29, with top drivers who have previous racing experience in the Formula Renault, BMW and Ford categories. I found it to be an extremely competitive series.

In the Toyota Racing Series, even though the grid is slightly smaller, most of it is made up of some of the best F3 and GP3 drivers. Only a few drivers are from junior classes so it’s quite a tough series.


Photo. Shahaan Éngineer Facebook page

Q: What are your racing plans for the rest of 2012?

A. I will take part in the Formula Renault UK championship with Fortec Motorsports

Q: Your hometown is Mumbai; how popular is motorsports in India and what facilities are in your town for karting?

A. Motorsport is quite new in India and is expanding fast, with a huge boost thanks to the newly built Buddh international circuit in Greater Noida which hosted the first ever Indian Grand Prix last October. In Dubai, where I have lived for the past 12 years, the Autodrome has a beautiful karting circuit where I practice regularly. We also have the Al Ain International raceway, which hosted the Rotax Max Karting World Finals last year and also in 2007.

Q: How did you develop interest in motor racing?

A. At the age of 11, I went rental karting for fun with a few friends and in between our 15 minute sessions there were ‘owner’ sessions, in which people who had competition go-karts were practicing. When I saw that, I really wanted a go in one of them so I asked my dad if he could buy me one and soon I was going to the track every day to practice – even on New Year’s Eve, I was addicted!

Q: How long were you in karting?

I started competing internationally in 2008, although over the course of three years I only had about a year’s experience and I stopped in March last year to begin testing single seaters.

Q: Karting to single-seaters, what was the biggest adjustment you had to make in your driving style?

A. You have to be a lot smoother with a car and respect it much more; you can’t just throw it around and expect it to work. You can push it, but when you go over the limit that’s where karting is friendly and open wheelers aren’t. It also takes a few laps to warm up a racing car, especially at the beginning of the day when all the parts and the tires are cold, whereas a kart just takes half a lap to one lap depending on the circuit length.

Q: Are you in touch with Narain and Karun and take racing guidance from them?

A. I have met Karun once in the UK briefly, and I talk to Narain and have met him in the UK a few times.

Q: Who is managing your career?

My father.

Q: You are now based in Dubai, how involved are you in the local karting scene?

A. Not very, I just go to practice, especially on a Thursday before the UAE championship rounds because the track really grips up and I get some good exercise and endurance training.

Q: Have you considered the American racing landscape? There are some good series for young drivers like USF2000 and Star Mazda?

A. I have thought about it, but America is very far from home and it would be difficult to make any commitments.

Q: India now has a Grand Prix and its own i1 Super Series. What is the best way to promote motorsports among young people in your country?

A. I think for motorsport to grow in India, like anything, it will take time. It was great to see the Indian Grand Prix, which has no doubt substantially improved the popularity and awareness of motorsport in India, and with the i1 Super Series set to begin in 2013 I can see the motorsport scene in India rapidly expanding in the next few years.

Q: Shahaan Éngineer, the young man not the racing driver. Your taste in music, food and what other sports you enjoy watching?

A. I love all sorts of music, including jazz, because I used to play drums from about the age of eight for four years until I discovered racing. During that time I learned how to play different styles, including swing, and once I got in the groove of playing it I also loved listening to it.

I enjoy spicy foods, and that’s probably because of my Indian background! I love all types of foods though, especially Chinese and sushi. Due to my strict diet (part of my racing career) I have to eat very healthy, which usually means nothing too tasty!

For more information we invite you to visit www.shahaan.com


—  Nasir Hameed

F1Weekly podcast # 556

F1weekly podcast number 556

Special Interview with Barrie Thomlinson of the Toyota racing series New Zealand.

Barrie has been involved in Motorsport since his school days with experience on both sides of the fence in race car preparation in NZ and the USA and of course behind the wheel. Club rallying and Formula Vee provided Barrie with his grounding before moving on to several successful years in Formula Ford and Formula Atlantic (NZ’s then premier single seater class).

After a break from competition Barrie returned to the sport making his mark in both the NZ 2.0 Litre Touring Car Championship and Dunlop Centennial Cup driving the ex-Ford Motorsport Telstar. His first outings in the Telstar saw him win three of four rounds and secured him the 1997 Dunlop Centennial Trophy.

Later in the season he went on to finish 3rd in the NZ Street Skills Series. Since then he has driven for Geoff Shorts Husqvarna/Collingwoods Telstar and International Motorsports BMW 320i.


Motorsports Mondial

 The 2012 Toyota Racing Series

 The 2012 Champion. The Auckland Ace – Nick Cassidy

Quick Cassidy & the Dutch Kid. The fifteen races, packed in five weekends, Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand is over. Local talent, Nick Cassidy, defended the home honors against strong foreign invasion to win the championship – after taking second last year to fellow Kiwi Mitch Evans.

Hannes van Asseldonk, the Boekel-born Dutch driver, finished an impressive second in the championship. Last year he raced in the German F3 and was fifth in the prestigious Macau F3 Grand Prix.

Green, green grass of New Zealand. The season started on the weekend of January 15 at Teretonga Park in Invercargill. The winner of the opening race of the season had a very famous name and familiar helmet colors, Hill and the London Rowing Club.

Familiar Helmet & Famous Name. Josh Hill races on a legendary legacy. Both father and grandfather were Formula 1 World Champions.

Josh Hill, the son of 1996 World Champion Damon and grandson of 1962 & ’68 World Champion Graham, was the winner after starting fourth on the grid. The pole-sitter, DNF in the race, Lucas Auer, also has F1 pedigree. His uncle gave Benetton their first and final victory in Grand Prix racing, Gerhard Berger.

The Boy from Boekel. Dutchman Hannes van Asseldonk won three races and was runner-up in the 2012 Championship.

Hannes van Asseldonk won the second race after surviving a heavy downpour on the final lap over Cassidy.

Hannes went double Dutch in the final race with Cassidy again second. Puerto Rican Felix Serralles was fourth.

The series then moved to the Timaru International Raceway. The track is great mixture of fast flowing and tight ‘first and second’ gear turns.

Nick Cassidy launched his championship challenge with victory in the opening race of the weekend over Damon Leitch. Hill was third man on the podium and Serralles picked up another fourth place finish.

Cassidy triumphed again in the second race while Serralles enjoyed his first podium finish in the series. English racer Jordan King was third.

Damon Leitch became the second Kiwi winner in the final race of the weekend. Russian Dmitry Suranovich was second while Cassidy made his third podium appearance of the weekend.

Scenic Taupo hosted the halfway point of the series on the 3.3km International track, which was also used by A1GP Series in days that are no more. The track is anti-clockwise and features a long downhill main straight.

European drivers swept the top four positions in the opening race. Jordan felt good to be King ahead of second place Josh Hill and Hannes was third.

Italian Raffaele Marciello, part of Ferrari Driver Development program, was fourth. Nick Cassidy was the top local driver in fifth.

Cassidy climbed the top step of the podium in race two, ahead of Damon Leitch and Marciello.

Race three saw third win of the series for Hannes. Hill was second and King third. Serralles was fourth Berger’s boy Lucas Auer fifth.

Roman Racer. Italian Michela Cerruti was the only lady in this year’s Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand.

The penultimate round of this year’s championship took place at the Hampton Downs Motorsport Park. The 2.63km circuit incorporates elevation changes over gentle hill country in the Waikato region of New Zealand.

Mitch Evans, a local talent and Mark Webber protégé who raced in GP3 last season, led a Giles Motorsport sweep of the podium winning over Hannes and Cassidy. Auer continued his fine run to finish fourth.

Raffaele Marciello did the “Italian Job” and won the second race of the weekend, his first in the series. Auer was second and Jordan King third.

Cassidy came back in the third and final race of the weekend to take the win over fellow Kiwi Evans with Hannes third, meaning second sweep of the podium by Giles Motorsport.

The Scenery is beautiful in New Zealand but racing is tough. Fifteen races in five weekends.

The final round was staged at Manfeild Park in Feilding, near Palmerston North. A driver and fan favorite, the circuit can run both ways.

The opening race for the Dan Higgins Trophy was won by Evans. His teammates took the next three places; Hannes was second and Cassidy third. Auer was fourth and Josh Hill was fifth for ETEC Motorsport.

Second race was the biggest success so far for Felix Serralles. The Puerto Rican cat scratched a close victory over Mitch Evans by 0.257s. Josh Hill was third.

Cassidy came in fifth which was enough to give him victory in the Championship.

The final race of the season – The 57th New Zealand Grand Prix – was icing on the cake for the newly crowned Champion, and a nice present from race leader Evans, his engine developed misfire. Cassidy taking the win over Hannes in second and Lucas Auer in third. Cassidy joining the ranks of the late Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart as a winner of this prestigious NZ motorsports event.

The inaugural Toyota Racing Series in 2005 – promoted then as the “First NZ Missile Launch – was won by Brent Collins. So far the championship winners have all been Kiwi racers.

The Italian-built Tatuus chassis is mated to a Toyota 2ZZ-GE engine, running in a modified race tune and powered by an 85% ethanol bio-fuel. The cars provide drivers with valuable experience of ‘aero’ wings and slicks. The full carbon fibre chassis and 215bhp provides plenty of performance and excitement.

“Oh! What a feeling for the drivers?”


— Nasir Hameed

   Greetings and Racing regards from California.


All photos courtesy of Toyota Racing NZ & Bruce Jenkins.