After a shortened season in 2021, followed by a cancelled 2022 season, Formula Regional Oceania Championship – formerly known as Toyota Racing Series – is back for 2023. Feeder Series presents your guide to the 2023 FROC season.
By Jan Husmann
In a pre-pandemic world, the Toyota Racing Series (TRS) was considered among the most important feeder series that ran during the European winter. Held on the circuits of New Zealand, TRS welcomed exciting local drivers alongside the best young drivers in the world on its grid. Former champions include the Kiwis Mitch Evans, Nick Cassidy and Liam Lawson as well as Lance Stroll, Lando Norris and Robert Shwartzman.
However, when COVID-19 hit the world, strict lockdown rules prevented international talents to take part in 2021 and led to a cancellation of the 2022 season. In 2023 the series is back with a new name, trying to reclaim its standing in the world of junior formulae. The appeal of the Formula Regional Oceania Championship (FROC)? The same amount of super licence points than Formula Regional Middle East for less budget.
While none of the European feeder series mainstays are part of the field, Kiwi Motorsport, a New Zealand entry in Road to Indy, Formula Regional Americas, and US F4 competes in FROC. And they welcome a familiar face amongst them with Jacob Abel. The 21-year-old raced in Indy Lights last year finishing eighth in the standings. Lucas Fecury was part of Kiwi Motorsport for nine races in the 2022 USF Juniors season and will also race with them in FROC this year.
One of their teammates will be Josh Mason. The Briton raced in the past two seasons of Euroformula Open. In 2021 he finished ninth and improved to fifth in the final standings of 2022, taking three victories over the course of the year.
Another Kiwi Motorsport driver is local hero James Penrose. The 27-year-old won New Zealand and South Island Formula Ford in 2021. He won a Toyota Racing Series entry in 2022 with the title sponsor before the season was cancelled. He will get his time to shine in 2023.
The last confirmed Kiwi Motorsport driver is Tom McLennan who was confirmed for Mtec Motorsport before the team withdrew from the championship. The Australian competed in sports cars in 2022 and makes the switch to single seaters.
The team to look for this January and February is M2 Competition. M2 has produced the winning driver every year since 2018. M2 has confirmed five drivers for 2023 so far.
Among them is Austrian Charlie Wurz. The son of former F1 racer Alex Wurz won UAE F4 in 2022 and competed with Prema in ADAC and Italian F4. He steps up to F3 cars this winter in preparation for the upcoming European season.
His teammate is American David Morales. Feeder series fans might know him for his 2022 GB3 campaign when he claimed one podium for Arden at Oulton Park.
Alongside him Australian Ryder Quinn will take the wheel in an M2 car. Quinn did not compete in karting before his journey into car racing started in 2021. He took three wins in Australian Formula Ford last season.
Two Kiwis looking to follow in the footsteps of Liam Lawson who took the championship with M2 in 2019. Callum Hedge returns to New Zealand after racing in Australian Carrera Cup last year and taking part in one round of FRECA in 2021. His compatriot Liam Sceats comes into the championship as third place finisher of New Zealand Formula Ford in 2022.
Although not officially confirmed at time of publication, Indy Pro 2000 champion Louis Foster is expected to be racing for Giles Motorsport. The Briton will race in FROC preparing for his first season of Indy NXT in 2023.
Chloe Chambers, who had an uneventful W Series season 2022 will race alongside him as well as Kiwi driver Breanna Morris. The 19-year-old won five of twelve races in North Island Formula Ford in 2022, winning the championship.
Finally, US driver Ryan Shehan will race for Giles after competing and winning with Kiwi Motorsport in last year’s US F4.
13-15 January – Highland Motorsport Park
20-22 January – Teretonga Park Raceway
27-29 January – Manfeild: Circuit Chris Amon
03-05 February – Hampton Downs Motorsport Park (New Zealand Grand Prix)
10-12 February – Taupo International Motorsport Park
Five race weekends in five weeks will provide an intense schedule for the drivers. Additionally, the competitors will have the chance for a Grand Prix win as the round at Hampton Downs will be the 67th edition of the New Zealand Grand Prix.
Weekend format, standings, and titles
Over the five race weekends ten qualifying and fifteen race sessions will be held for the competitors on the tracks across North Island and South Island of New Zealand.
On Friday of race weekend, three free practice sessions will take place. On Saturdays Qualifying 1 and Race 1 are scheduled with Qualifying 2 and Races 2 and 3 on Sundays.
Races 1 and 3 will award full points, with 35 points awarded to the winner, down to 1 point for 20th. Race 2 will have a partially reversed grid and awards 20 points to the winner down to 1 point for 15th. However, drivers must be classified to receive points for the standings.
The driver with the most points at the end of the season will receive the Chris Amon trophy for the FROC Drivers’ Championship title. There is additional silverware to be won in the shape of the International Drivers’ Champion as well as the winner of the Bruce McLaren Trophy for the highest placed Kiwi driver. The Rookie of the Year trophy will be awarded to the highest placed finisher that has competed in no more than three Toyota Racing Series rounds and no more than three rounds of an equivalent or higher-level single-seater championship in the last 12 months.
Where to watch
All rounds of FROC are broadcast exclusively on motorsport.tv. The qualifying and race session will have live broadcasts. For all sessions, including testing and practice, you can find live timing on fg91motorsport.com. In New Zealand, all races are broadcast live on channel Three.
Header photo credit: TRS
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