Team-mates to be TRS rivals

Team-mates American Will Owen and Frenchman Timothe Buret will be going head to head in the opening round of the 2016 Toyota Racing Series at Ruapuna Park, Christchurch on January 16 and 17.

The pair have been racing side by side for Juncos Racing in the Pro Mazda Indy car series – the third rung on the Road to Indy ladder for the Indy Car Championship in the USA which Aucklander Scott Dixon has won three times.

In the New Zealand Toyota Racing Series Buret will be run by the Auckland based ETEC team and Owen by Giles Motorsport.

Buret, who was born in Montpellier, France but based himself in Indianapolis this year, had slightly the better of their battles in the 10 round, 16 race American series in 2015.

After winning a round on the Indianapolis road course and finishing in the top five of seven other races, Buret finished the season in fifth place.

Twenty year old Buret had two seasons of racing in France in 2013 and 2014 after graduating from karts, which he started in 2010. He scored seven wins and 12 podiums in Caterham sports cars and Formula Renault last year.

Owen, also aged 20, started his motorsport career relatively late as a 15 year old, and by 2012 was winning karting events nationally. He progressed to US Formula 2000 and scored his first win at the Indianapolis road course in 2014.

This year he moved up to the Pro Mazda single seater championship and scored three podiums including two second places, to finish seventh overall.

“I was looking for some winter racing experience,” said Owen from his Fort Worth Texas base where he is studying business administration finance. “Race craft is what I need to improve the most. This will do the trick.”

“It’s my first international endeavour. I’ve never done anything like this,” said Owen, who is originally from Denver, Colorado.

“The amount of track time combined with the talent from around the globe is the combination that makes this series unlike any other.”

The Toyota Racing Series is held over five consecutive weekends, with practice sessions on the Friday, qualifying and one race on the Saturday and two races on the Sunday.

Mark Baker has been working in automotive PR and communications for more than two decades. For much longer than that he has been a motorsport journalist, photographer and competitor, witness to most of the most exciting and significant motorsport trends and events of the mid-late 20th Century. His earliest memories of motorsport were trips to races at Ohakea in the early 1960s, and later of annual summer pilgrimages to watch Shellsport racers and Mini 7s at Bay Park and winter sorties into forests around Kawerau and Rotorua to see the likes of Russell Brookes, Ari Vatanen and Mike Marshall ply their trade in group 4 Escorts. Together with Murray Taylor and TV producer/director Dave Hedge he has been responsible for helping to build New Zealand’s unique Toyota Racing Series into a globally recognized event brand under category managers Barrie and Louise Thomlinson. Now working for a variety of automotive and mainstream commercial clients, Mark has a unique perspective on recent motor racing history and the future career paths of our best and brightest young racers.

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