Petr Ptacek Jr is ready to kick off his 2019 Castrol Toyota Racing Series campaign at Highlands Motorsport Park in New Zealand this weekend (12-13 January).
The 16-year-old will race for the championship-winning Giles Motorsport squad during the five-round series that gives European-based drivers a competitive single-seater challenge during the winter months.
Having dominated the Italian F4 Championship’s Rookie Cup during 2018, Petr regards his upcoming racing challenge in New Zealand as a perfect opportunity to continue his learning and hopefully claim some more silverware.
“I’m really excited to be doing my first races in New Zealand,” the Czech driver said. “The Toyota Racing Series has a reputation for being competitive and it will be great to race on some tracks that are different to what you see in Europe.”
The Toyota Racing Series pits drivers against one another in identical Tatuus FT-50 chassis’, with power coming from a 1.8-litre Toyota engine that produces 215hp.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s first round at the 4.1km Highlands Motorsport Park, Petr said: “Generally, I don’t think I’ll have any problems getting used to a new car but the non-turbo engine will be different to what I’ve been used to. I’ll have to adapt my driving style a little but I’ve shown I can react quickly in the past.
“If you’re a good racing driver, you have to try things that are new and show that you can learn fast.”
As a series that runs without a formal pre-season testing programme, Petr knows he will need to make a confident start at the first round if he is going to mount a strong championship challenge and, potentially, follow in the footsteps of current F1 drivers Lance Stroll and Lando Norris as a series winner.
“There’s no opportunity to do a pre-test in the car before the first round so I’m really starting from zero. But that doesn’t concern me,” the Parmigiani Watches-supported driver explained.
“I’m confident in my ability and my target is to win like always. I’m expecting the next chapter in my career to be a fantastic experience.”
Petr’s 2019 Castrol Toyota Racing Series calendar:
Dorothy Smith Memorial Cup – Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell
Spirit of a Nation Trophy – Teretonga Park, Invercargill
NZ Motor Cup – Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Waikato
Denny Hulme Trophy – Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo
New Zealand Grand Prix – Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, Feilding