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The Road To The 67th New Zealand Grand Prix Starts Here

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing New Zealand has released details of its Road to NZGP programme and it should help young Kiwi racers into the fast lane for the biggest single seater race weekend of the year.

Kaleb Ngatoa dices it out with Shane van Gisbergen in the 2021 Grand Prix. More young Kiwi racers like Ngatoa will have a chance to shine thanks to the Road to GP initiative. Picture Bruce Jenkins.

With the ongoing challenges of the global pandemic, the threat of lockdowns and the lack of MIQ availability, the TRS cars will only appear for one weekend at the Grand Prix, scheduled for 11-13th February at Hampton Downs on the National Circuit.

TGRNZ are pulling out all the stops to get New Zealand drivers on the GP grid and will give each one a fighting chance of putting their name on the iconic trophy.

There will be testing available to South Island drivers on 18th and 19th January at the Mike Pero Motorsport Park Ruapuna and to all runners on February 2nd and 3rd at Hampton Downs. These are in addition to current scheduled TRS test dates which are - alert levels permitting - at Hampton Downs on September 29th and October 12th and 13th. Further test dates may also be made available to drivers in November and December.

The Grand Prix takes place on the afternoon of Sunday 13th and there will be a sprint race for the Dorothy Smith Memorial Cup in the morning. The build up to the big races, however, starts the previous Thursday.

Five testing and free practice sessions run through from Thursday to Saturday morning. Qualifying will take place on Saturday afternoon and will follow a similar format to the Formula One events with a three-phase qualifying session. Qualifying for the sprint race (Q1) will take place before the first Grand Prix qualifying session (Q2). The third and final qualifying session, Q3, will be limited to the top eight runners from Q2 and will be for the Castrol GP Pole Position Shootout.

Prize money is on offer for the NZGP race too, with $5,000 to the winner, $3,000 for second place and $2,000 for third. There’s also $1,000 for the sprint race winner and $500 and $250 for the second and third place finishers respectively. The Castrol Pole Position Shootout winner will also go home with a cheque for $500 in their back pocket.

Along with the Hampton Downs Academy's Prize shootout where its graduates will go head to head to win funding towards a drive in the Grand Prix, and the availability of the Kiwi Driver Fund support for any eligible driver, TGRNZ Motorsport Manager Nico Caillol is hopeful the unique opportunity will hit the right note with domestic racing drivers.

“While there is only one race weekend, it’s going to be a very special one and there is a lot of work going into it to make it a successful one, with ourselves and our partners Castrol, Toyota Financial Services, Post Haste, Century Yuasa and Hankook all supporting the initiative.” he said.

“We are going to give drivers the opportunity to clock up hundreds of kilometres testing with our engineers to get them up to speed with the FT60 and give them a proper build up to the Grand Prix. That's going to give them plenty of time in a state-of-the-art junior formula car and will inevitably put them in good shape for a strong showing in the Grand Prix itself.

“All in all it represents excellent value for money and a unique opportunity to be the man or woman of the moment and write their name in the history books and make a big step towards becoming New Zealand’s next World Champion.”

New Zealand's Grand Prix has a rich history with its list of winners reading like a 'Who's Who' of domestic and international motorsport royalty. It is one of only two events outside of the Formula One World Championship which is officially sanctioned by world governing body of motorsport the FIA as a Grand Prix.

© Scoop Media

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