Toyota Racing Series newbie Josh Bethune says he is targeting race wins and nothing else in his first season of the championship.
Over just a few years in single-seaters, Bethune has established himself as one of New Zealand’s most promising up-and-coming talents.
He has finished runner-up in two seasons of NZ Formula Ford and was champion in the 2018/19 South Island series.
Before that, he spent a year overseas racing for Primus Racing in the United States Formula 4 championship.
Bethune says his main goal is to be racing amongst the front-runners with the first round of his debut TRS season fast approaching. But he stressed there are still areas of learning he needs to get atop of quickly if he is to be on the pace from the onset.
“In our rookie year in TRS, we are looking to be on pace with all of the other drivers,” Bethune told Velocity News. “I am going to be pushing 100 per cent for the top step.
“But this year also brings a bit of learning for me with the TRS car having more aero, more power and is overall a heavier car than what I have driven before.
“I didn’t think the physical side of it was too much of a jump compared to the US F4 car as they are also very heavy.
“My biggest issue has been the brake. In the FT50, the brakes felt light, but with the FT60 it is still not at the brake pressure that I am used to.
“So, I will be working on that and also getting used to the aero and how hard you can actually push to get the maximum out of the car.”
The opening round of this year’s championship also doubles as the New Zealand Prix, which will be held at Hampton Downs.
Rookie drivers have won the Grand Prix the last two seasons. It is a small streak, but one Bethune is gunning to continue.
“To win the NZ GP would be something truly special. Having the chance to win one of the two grands prix outside of F1 would show all my supporters and backers just what we can achieve.
“It will also show just how far we have come from being a five-year-old driving around a track at running pace to 13 years later winning the NZ GP. So, that would be a dream come true and would definitely be a tick on my bucket list.”
At 17-years-old, Bethune is one of the youngest drivers on the 2021 grid. He is aiming for a career racing internationally, and he hopes a season in TRS will be the springboard he needs to put him on the world stage.
“I always raced alongside TRS when I was in Formula Ford, and I would even watch the series back when I was in karts.
“Seeing the drivers going onto to do bigger things like F1 and the World Endurance Championship was cool. So, I have always seen TRS as a path to get to where I want to go.
“I currently have no confirmed plans for next year, but hopefully after this season, something pops up overseas or even here in NZ. I will have to wait and see.
“Some drivers do just one season in TRS, and that’s it. But others do many.
“So, if the opportunity came up to do TRS again next year, depending on what I was doing, yeah I would probably take it and have another crack. But you just never know.”