AHMED TO TRS BUT NORRIS WITHDRAWS
F3 Autumn Trophy winner to head to NZ, Norris to prioritise other preparations
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