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Strong team for Toyota Racing Series

 

Christchurch-based team owner, Craig Russell, is fielding nearly a quarter of the Toyota Racing Series grid for the new season which starts at Pukekohe next weekend, 4/5 November 2006.

His driver line-up includes a Wellingtonian who was second in the series last year behind Daniel Gaunt, last year's rookie of the year from Queenstown, a rookie contestant from Te Awamutu and an experienced campaigner at least twice the age of the youngest in the team.

Craig Russell has been involved in motorsport for over 20 years and is highly respected for his engineering skills. He has been involved in a wide variety of classes here and internationally in both saloon and single-seaters including Formula 3 and Formula 1.

Auto - Motion has been involved with the Toyota Racing Series since its inception in 2004/2005 where it was the first team to run an international driver and the only team to run two drivers. Last season they ran three cars and claimed runner-up (Ben Harford) and fourth overall with Marc Doran.

"It's certainly challenging to organize things this year but I'd geared up to run four cars since the end of last season so I've had all winter to plan and prepare".

Car # 5 - Marc Doran (Queenstown)

Rookie of the Year 2005/2006, fourth overall in the series, he's been busy in the gym and testing on the track. The Automotion team has used 21-year-old Marc for benchmark reference laps over the winter months and in between times he has been doing some driver training for the Canterbury Racing School.

His number one mechanic is Adam Collins, one of the very select group of drivers to have ever driven the legendary PDL Mustang and son of renowned all-comer driver Clyde Collins.

Car #7 - Ben Harford (Wellington)

The 23-year-old was second in the Toyota Racing Series last season and is never short on pace. In his first competitive season in the 1999 Formula Ford Winter Series he finished seventh out of a class field of 20 drivers. The following year he became the Winter Series champion, beating far more experienced drivers such as Fabian Coulthard, Nelson Hartley and James Cressey and as a result, was selected as a finalist for the inaugural Bruce McLaren scholarship.

He is mentored by long-time saloon car driver (V8s and Tranzam) Andrew Fawcett. He recently married which he says will give him extra pace.

His number one mechanic, as last season, is Paul (Ronnie) Sheddon, a highly respected builder of rotary engines and a racer himself with a background in muscular OSCA saloons.

Car #9 - Nic Jordan (Te Awamutu)

Nic has essentially been 'on the bench' for the past 18 months after his last outing in Aussie F3 at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. He won the Australian F3 Trophy class title in 2004 but the racer's perennial lament, a lack of funds, kept the Waikato teenager at home - until now.

Although he is no stranger to motor sport, having competed in karts and Formula First before campaigning in Australia, this will be Nic's first season in TRS.

His mechanic for the series is Arron Stidder who in his spare time is an Air New Zealand aircraft technician.

Car #40 - Mark Munro (Christchurch)

Mark is back for his third season. Other Automotion team members wryly suggest Mark's racing number generously indicates his age but he doesn't see that making any difference. He tested over winter and Craig Russell says he's a "shining example" of the commitment and dedication required to improve this season.

Also over the long winter lay-off Mark's been in working hard in the gym and has adopted a new dietary approach.

His number one technician is a recent addition to the team, Lee Howell, a recent immigrant to Christchurch. He trained as a BMW UK mechanic then moved to Formula One as a gearbox technician and 'boltie' first with Arrows then with Renault.

Lee is an avid photographer and some of his spectacular commissioned and freelance images can be seen on www.kaptured.com


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