Before 2022 Indy Pro 2000 champion Louis Foster makes the jump to Indy NXT with Andretti Autosport, he is competing in the Formula Regional Oceania Championship (FROC). Feeder Series talked with him about his adaptation to FROC after his first race weekend in the New Zealand series.
By Jan Husmann
Foster joined the grid for Round 3 at Manfeild last weekend with Giles Motorsport. That debut, though, came two weeks later than initially planned.
“The plan was to do the first round, skip the second round and then do the rest of the season. [Round 2] clashed with testing in Indy NXT. But I could not get [to New Zealand] because I was waiting on my passport and a new visa for America. It took a bit longer than we expected.”
“Last week I got my visa on Tuesday, flew on Wednesday morning, and landed in New Zealand on Friday morning. I had to get into driving pretty quickly,” Foster said about the sequence of events ahead of Round 3. “It was not too bad, but I was quite jet-lagged and tired from 31 hours of flying.”
His on-track performance seemed unaffected by his tumultuous journey. He qualified second for Race 1 and Race 3 and won his very first FROC race on debut ahead of championship leader Charlie Wurz.
A crash with Wurz prevented a second win, but his pace was impressive all weekend.
“The team did an amazing job,” he said. “Stephen Giles, my engineer, helped me get up to speed very quickly with the car. I wish I qualified a bit better, but I was pretty much new to the car. It was difficult to get up to speed so quickly, when [the rest of the grid] already had two weekends and pre-season testing.”
Getting to grips with the Tatuus FT-60
FROC’s Tatuus FT-60 is considered a difficult car to learn, and even though Foster had never driven the car before, he came well prepared.
“I got information from some engineers of mine who engineered that car before,” he said. “They have given me tips and helped me understand how the car is going to handle.
Out of all the cars I have driven, this is probably the most difficult car to get out of a corner because it has so much wheelspinLouis Foster on the challenge of driving the FROC car
“The tyres are quite tricky,” he continued. “They are very stiff, and you struggle a lot with traction. Out of all the cars I have driven, including Indy Lights, this is probably the most difficult car to get out of a corner because it has so much wheelspin. And it has about half of the horsepower of an Indy Lights car.
“It is pretty difficult, but I am enjoying the challenge. It is another tool for my arsenal to use in the future.”
Foster’s first weekend in FROC was characterised by his on-track battles with Charlie Wurz, with Foster taking a less cautious approach than the title challengers around him.
After missing the first two rounds, the Briton does not need to concern himself with securing points, as his title chances are only mathematical at this stage.
“I will be more aggressive than usual. But at the end of the day, I am not going to throw a stupid lunge because I am not in the championship fight,” he said.
“I get that these guys are, and I am not trying to ruin their championship by taking both of us out. Obviously, I will be more aggressive than other drivers and go for wins because that is what we want to do, but I will not drive light-headed.”
Comparing Europe, America and New Zealand
During his time in Europe, America and now New Zealand, Foster has experienced all kinds of different paddocks. But the differences between them are only apparent in small details.
“Almost any country I race in is pretty similar because everyone is there for the same goal, for the same purpose. Everyone wants to win,” he said.
“There are some slight differences. I would say there is a lot more pressure in Europe, to compete well, to raise funding and to look good in front of Formula 1 team bosses, especially in F3 and F2.
“[In America], they have a lot more love for the sport. They definitely show that and the fans are amazing. I really enjoy racing in America. I have had more fun [last] year than in any other year of racing, not just by winning the championship.
“I would say New Zealand is pretty similar to America. A lot of good drivers from New Zealand have to do a certain amount of their career [in New Zealand]. I think it is a good founding step for motorsport and honing your craft in your home country,” Foster said.
“The tracks remind me a lot of British tracks, which I think are the best tracks to learn to race. There is very little room for errors as they are quite small and narrow, which is great for driver development.”
His next races come this weekend at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, where he will aim for victory in the championship’s flagship event, the New Zealand Grand Prix.
Header photo credit: Formula Regional Oceania Championship
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