AHMED TO TRS BUT NOR­RIS WITH­DRAWS

F3 Au­tumn Tro­phy win­ner to head to NZ, Nor­ris to pri­ori­tise other prepa­ra­tions

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - Pho­tos: Jakob Ebrey, LAT By Jack Cozens

BRDC Bri­tish F3 Au­tumn Tro­phy win­ner Enaam Ahmed will com­pete in the Toyota Rac­ing Series in New Zealand, al­though de­fend­ing cham­pion Lando Nor­ris has re­versed his de­ci­sion to contest the series.

Ahmed won the Au­tumn Tro­phy event at Snet­ter­ton at the back end of Oc­to­ber last year with Car­lin, hav­ing con­tested the main cham­pi­onship with Douglas Motorsport.

While the 16-year-old has not yet con­firmed his full plans for 2017, Ahmed has an­nounced he will race in the TRS with the Giles Motorsport team, along­side Red Bull-backed driv­ers Luis Leeds and Richard Ver­schoor. The first round takes place on Jan­uary 14 at Rua­puna Park.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited to be go­ing into TRS with such fierce com­pe­ti­tion,” Ahmed said. “It’s go­ing to be a re­ally good chal­lenge to go up against th­ese ex­pe­ri­enced guys as I wasn’t old enough to do it last year. Let’s see how it goes.”

Mean­while, Mclaren Au­tosport BRDC Award win­ner Lando Nor­ris has can­celled his plans to de­fend the Toyota Rac­ing Series crown he won in 2016.

Nor­ris recorded six wins and a fur­ther five podi­ums on his way to the ti­tle last year, and had planned to re­turn to the event for a sec­ond year – an­nounc­ing last Novem­ber he would again run with the M2 Com­pe­ti­tion team.

But the 17-year-old has since re­neged on that plan cit­ing a de­sire to stay in Europe and pre­pare for his first cam­paign in the Euro­pean For­mula 3 Cham­pi­onship.

“I’m mas­sively dis­ap­pointed to miss out on the op­por­tu­nity to de­fend my Toyota Rac­ing Series ti­tle but I be­lieve I’ve taken the right de­ci­sion – al­though it was a hard one to reach,” said Nor­ris.

“Last year was a very busy year of rac­ing that started in Jan­uary and fin­ished in Novem­ber. I need to be in the best pos­si­ble shape, men­tally and phys­i­cally, from the start of the Euro F3 season in April – be­ing suc­cess­ful in F3 is my num­ber one pri­or­ity in 2017 so un­for­tu­nately it’s a case of sac­ri­fic­ing the TRS op­por­tu­nity.

“Ad­di­tion­ally, hav­ing re­cently won the Mclaren Au­tosport BRDC Award, I re­ally want to spend some time at the Au­tosport In­ter­na­tional Show in Jan­uary where I’ll now also have im­por­tant com­mit­ments with the BRDC.”

Will Palmer, Max Fewtrell, Dan Ticktum, Luis Leeds, Richard Ver­schoor. The list of top ju­nior-seater driv­ers set to com­pete in the For­mula Re­nault Eurocup this season goes on.

So that’s a Mclaren Au­tosport BRDC Award win­ner, a Bri­tish F4 cham­pion, a Bri­tish F4 rookie star, a Bri­tish F4 third-place fin­isher, and an SMP F4 and Span­ish F4 cham­pion. Not bad for the first week of Jan­uary with still three-and-a-half months un­til the first race.

For 2017, Re­nault an­nounced it was go­ing to put a ma­jor ef­fort into re­vamp­ing the series. And it cer­tainly seems to have worked. Among the raft of changes for this season was the in­tro­duc­tion of more rounds (an in­crease from seven to 10). But what re­ally seems to have caught the at­ten­tion of bud­ding stars is the in­volve­ment of the Re­nault F1 team.

Two driv­ers from the Eurocup this year will get the chance to be­come part of the Re­nault Sport Academy and ben­e­fit from the fa­cil­i­ties at the F1 squad’s En­stone base. They will also re­ceive sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial back­ing for 2018.

With such ben­e­fits on of­fer it’s no won­der so many top driv­ers have al­ready signed up. The changes have also proved pop­u­lar with teams as well with Ar­den join­ing the cat­e­gory for the first ever time and out­fits like MP Motorsport re­turn­ing to the fold.

Out of the driv­ers con­firmed so far, Palmer is sure to be one of the favourites. This will be his sec­ond season in the cham­pi­onship and he ben­e­fits from the con­sis­tency of stay­ing with the same R-ace GP team. He will also carry the con­fi­dence from tak­ing his maiden win in the series in the fi­nale at Es­to­ril last year. So he is cer­tainly in a good po­si­tion to em­u­late the achieve­ments of this year’s cham­pion Lando Nor­ris.

The in­ter­est­ing el­e­ment of Fewtrell, Leeds and Ticktum join­ing Palmer on the grid is the series they de­cided to ne­glect to in­stead com­pete in the Eurocup. Ticktum was all-but con­firmed as com­pet­ing in Euro­pean F3 for 2017 but now seems set to race in the Eurocup in­stead. And Fewtrell and Leeds have de­cided to ig­nore the UK step­ping stone of the BRDC Bri­tish F3 Cham­pi­onship to move straight to the Eurocup. That demon­strates its ap­peal and al­ready it seems we are set for a fas­ci­nat­ing season. Talk­ing of fas­ci­nat­ing, Jake Hughes’ de­ci­sion to move from GP3 to Euro­pean F3 is an in­trigu­ing one. The Brit im­pressed in his cou­ple of F3 out­ings at the end of 2016 with Car­lin but now mov­ing to the series full-time acts as a bit of a damn­ing in­dict­ment on GP3 that a two-time 2016 win­ner feels F3 is his best op­tion to progress.

Nor­ris has re­versed TRS de­ci­sion

Ahmed will contest Toyota Rac­ing Series

Grids could be even big­ger in Eurocup this year

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