Pukekohe’s Taylor Cockerton has made the commitment to be on the grid for the 2016 Toyota Racing Series that gets underway in Christchurch in January. After considerable thought and consultation, the 2014/15 New Zealand Formula Ford Champion and his team see that the TRS single seater championship is the ideal platform for the high school student to step up too after a highly successful racing season last summer.
“It’s going to be very exciting,” commented Cockerton. “It’s an international series which will enable me to compare myself with some of the best talent in the world at that level. It’s proven to be a great series where we have already seen a number of drivers from TRS competing now in F1.”
A considerable amount of planning by family, team and supporters has gone into the decision. This has included two tests in Australia as well as two TRS tests here in New Zealand.
The opportunity of testing the brand new Australian Formula 4 car at Winton in Victoria presented the team with one ‘slicks’ and ‘wings’ option.
“The F4 car is pretty cool,” said Cockerton. “The test we had at Winton in the autumn was a great opportunity which is really appreciated.”
Cockerton was back at Winton several weeks later testing an Australian Formula Ford and has since competed in one round of their championship and the same circuit last month.
“The calibre of drivers’ was a massive step up from our domestic season. It took me a time to get use to the track and the car but made steady progress over the weekend. We ended up seventh overall after three races. We had the pace to contend with the top three cars. By the end of the weekend I was starting to gel with the car and work with the team as well.”
“However, the majority of the decision comes down to money and in terms of what I would get out of the season and the calibre of driver I will compete against.
TRS category manager Barrie Thomlinson is thrilled to have the young Kiwi join the series.
“We’ve had the last two New Zealand Formula Ford champs (Jamie Conroy, James Munro) come through and join the series. Taylor joins a long line of Formula Ford drivers who have competed in TRS, many that have gone on and are now competing on the world stage.”
“We’ve been very impressed with Taylor, particularly his approach and focus on the task ahead. By winning the NZ Formula Ford title he’s shown he’s got the speed and talent.”
Thomlinson confirmed the importance of the Toyota Racing Series and the opportunity of for young Kiwi talent. “Where else can a Kiwi driver buy this type of exposure? From here a young driver can gauge where he stands and make some sound decisions on his future direction.”
The five consecutive race weekends of the TRS has proven to be an important testing ground for drivers. “Particularly coming up to the last couple of rounds he’ll know how he compares, where his talent is in relation to the many international drivers that will be on the 2016 grid,” adds Thomlinson.
“TRS also offers the opportunity with PR, media, marketing and exposure around the world. Things can happen as a result of this because talent does get noticed.”
As well as winning the national Formula Ford title and numerous awards, Cockerton has just been awarded the “Michael McHugh Trophy” via the Auckland car club for his sportsmanship like approach to his championship win this year.
“I look back on the last season and it seems surreal,” commented Cockerton. “The hard work has paid off for me and the team, particularly when I look back on the end of last season; I have come a long way. It’s important to keep the momentum up as I put pretty high expectations on myself.”
“We plan to do a lot of planning, working with sponsors and testing so that we head into the series well prepared and with a lot of seat time.”
The five round 2016 Toyota Racing Series held over five consecutive rounds gets underway in Christchurch 16-17 January.