2024 Formula Regional Oceania Season Begins This Weekend
The 19th season of Toyota New Zealand’s international single seater competition – the second as the official FIA Formula Regional Oceania Championship - gets underway this weekend in New Zealand and it’s packed with interesting and proven talent.
New Zealand’s Castrol Toyota FR Oceania championship begins this weekend. Picture Bruce Jenkins
There’s plenty to keep the fans interested with 17 of the world’s top junior drivers on the starting grid for the first round of the championship at the Taupo International Motorsport Park.
As well as a field brimming with exceptional talent, history will also be made for New Zealand’s premier single seater championship when it takes to the track on Pirelli tyres, powered by 100% fossil-free fuel from P1 Fuels.
Drivers from nine countries will compete over the five back-to-back weekends of this year’s championship, with each fighting for FIA Super Licence points that are a major stepping stone to higher formulae in the governing body’s ladder of progression.
In a notable international field, there are Kiwi drivers very familiar with the championship’s circuits and a healthy number of visiting drivers who could easily shine.
Canadian Patrick Woods-Toth is the reigning F4 United States Champion after an epic 2023 that saw him plucked from obscurity with a win in a driver scholarship competition that then propelled him into a competitive seat. He duly delivered and caught the attention of many as potentially Canada’s next big motorsport name. Runner up to Patrick last year in the F4 US Championship, Titus Sherlock, is another with abundant talent racing this weekend.
New Alpine Academy signing Nicola Lacorte will begin his busy 2024 season this weekend in New Zealand too. Sixteen year old Italian Lacorte is one of the most promising young drivers emerging in Europe and has just been signed for the Alpine F1 team junior driver development programme. Whilst he is only competing in selected rounds in NZ, he is likely to do so as a frontrunner.
Australian’s Christian Mansell and Tommy Smith should also shine. Mansell is an accomplished junior and has climbed the podium in FIA F3, so has proven he has considerable pace. Smith too is a young racer with vast experience in junior formulae and in his case, knowledge of the NZ tracks from a campaign in 2019. Elliott Cleary makes it three entries for Australia this year.
There is a fascinating line up of Kiwis looking to follow in Liam Lawson’s footsteps. Liam Sceats was a star in the 2023 Castrol Toyota FR Oceania Championship and will surely be competitive throughout the championship.
Kaleb Ngatoa, a race winner in the 2023 season, will be looking for consistency as well as speed as he tackles his third championship, but the first time he’s done a full campaign in a full field. Alex Crosbie is a double champion from Formula Ford and should spring a surprise or two, while Kaden Probst enters with a background in NZ’s domestic single seater series.
A very healthy contingent from the USA this year also includes, Jett Bowling, Jake Bonilla and Landan Matriano Lim, with all looking to have a successful campaign in New Zealand and set themselves up for strong seasons, beginning in the USA a little further into the calendar year.
South Korea’s Michael Shin, Poland’s Roman Bilinski and China’s Gerrard Xie bring further pedigree from single seaters while Lucas Fecury is back for a second season in the championship and will be aiming to make the most of his 2023 experience to move up the grid in 2024.
It all begins with testing on Thursday, before official practice begins Friday. Saturday will see qualifying and the first race of the championship, with Sunday bringing a reverse grid race in the morning then the feature race in the afternoon, competing for the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy.
2024 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship certified by FIA – Entry
|Patrick Woods Toth
|Landan Matriano Lim
2024 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship certified by FIA - Events
19-21 January 2024 - Taupo International Motorsport Park – Historic GP event
26-28 January 2024 - Manfeild - Circuit Chris Amon
2-4 February 2024 - Hampton Downs Motorsport Park
9-11 February 2024 – Euromarque Motorsport Park
16-18 February 2024 - Highlands Motorsport Park – 68th New Zealand Grand Prix