No room at the Managed Isolation and Quarantine Inn for international Toyota Racing Series drivers
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The Toyota Racing Series (TRS) is one of 11 sporting events with New Zealand Government approval to use Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facilities - but a lack of available space means that there will be no international drivers competing in either the New Zealand Grand Prix (NZGP) or Castrol TRS for 2021.
"After working with MBIE and Sport NZ we are disappointed that we are unable to get international drivers into NZ to compete due to the lack of space in MIQ facilities," says Toyota's general manager of motorsport, Andrew Davis.
"We had several international drivers lined up and ready to come, so we are disappointed that this is the end result, especially as we had worked hard to gain approved status.
"We have seen many of the TRS drivers go on to compete in Formula One, including international and NZ drivers, and we had done everything in our power to ensure this continued this season.
“The implications for the series are that the talented young NZ drivers racing will not get to compete against international drivers of a similar calibre.
“However, we are excited for the series and it will definitely be one to watch this year with a lot of great up and coming Kiwi talent competing and a significant list of established Kiwi racers bolstering the field.
"The 66th Grand Prix is going to be special in many ways, not least because there are more top line NZ drivers on show in one race than there has been for a considerable time in New Zealand and we are delighted to be part of it with everyone involved determined to put on a great show."
Billed this year as the Race of Champions, the 2021 NZGP could be one of the biggest for major Kiwi names. The MotorSport NZ-sanctioned event doubles as the opening round of the 2021 Castrol TRS.
A joint venture by Hampton Downs and Speed Works Events, it will run over the weekend of January 22nd-24th with practice, qualifying and two races for drivers before the NZGP itself on Sunday 24th over 28 laps of the circuit.
The list of previous winners includes Stirling Moss, Prince Bira, Jack Brabham, John Surtees, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and legendary Kiwi racers Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon. More recently, it has been won by current F1 drivers Lando Norris and Lance Stroll.
This will be the first time the NZGP has been held at the North Waikato circuit.
A second weekend at Hampton Downs, coinciding with the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival, will form the second round of the 2021 Castrol TRS Championship, with the season finale at Manfeild two weeks later.
Late last year the decision was made to cut the TRS from the usual five NZ-wide rounds to three North Island races only for 2021, in response to Covid-19 and in the hopes of encouraging more Kiwi drivers to contest the entire series. However, at that time Toyota Gazoo Racing still hoped to secure international drivers for the field.
Igor Fraga (pictured) was last season's Castrol TRS champion.