Fresh from his biggest year of motor racing yet, Marcus Armstrong (17) has confirmed he will contest the 2018 Castrol Toyota Racing Series with one aim: to be champion.
The Christchurch-born racer, currently in the midst of winter testing for his 2018 European campaign, won three races in the 2017 TRS including the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy. Heading almost immediately to Europe, he then embarked on two separate FIA Formula 4 campaigns.
Armstrong is the first Kiwi to have been inducted into the Ferrari Driver Academy, and he contested the German and Italian F4 championships for Prema Powerteam.
His results were exceptional: he led the German championship until the final round, taking three wins, seven podiums and two pole positions and finishing second to his team-mate. Just weeks later the Kiwi made sure of the Italian title with five wins, 13 podiums and six pole positions.
He thus follows in the wheel-tracks of 2015 Toyota Racing Series champion Lance Stroll, who came to New Zealand having won the inaugural Italian F4 title with Prema and FDA, won TRS and then Formula 3 Europe and is now racing Formula 1 with the Williams team.
“It has been a huge year, I have learned a great deal and I’m looking forward to the coming championship very much,” he said.
Armstrong will once more compete in the New Zealand championship with M2 Competition as he did this year. He says he will be taking a more strategic approach to the 2018 title chase, adding that the one race he will be looking to win is the one every driver in the field desires: the New Zealand Grand Prix.
“I’m not going out to just win everything, I want the title and if that means taking podiums and banking points then that is what I will do.” The benefit of getting an early start on 2018 is a further motivation. “The Toyota Racing Series is a huge boost to any racer’s competition year, it just prepares you so well for the northern hemisphere. To be able to come back here and race with M2 and be supported by the Ferrari Driver Academy is fantastic,” he said.
In the 2017 TRS, Armstrong won three races including the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy and finished on the podium eight times, ending the five week, 15 race championship fourth overall at his first attempt. Now, he says, he has his sights set firmly on the title. The 2018 Championship, he says, will likely be as tough as the Formula 4 championships of 2017.
“TRS always brings the best, so it’s going to be a big fight but I learn more and more from everything I take on, and I’m ready.”