New Alpine Academy signing Nicola Lacorte will begin a busy 2024 season with selected rounds of the 2024 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship in New Zealand.
Sixteen-year-old Italian driver Lacorte is one of the most promising young drivers emerging in Europe and has just been signed by the Alpine Academy – a project run by the Alpine F1 team – for its junior driver development programme.
Lacorte’s programme for 2024 was confirmed just this week and will include Castrol Toyota FR Oceania, where he will run the first three rounds of the five-round series with multiple championship winners M2 Competition.
Nicola, who hails from Italy’s Pisa region, started racing in karts at the age of six and made the switch to single-seater and circuit racing in 2022, running the final races in the Italian F4 Championship.
This was followed by a full campaign in the category this year as a rookie, which saw Lacorte step up to take his first race win and two podium results for ninth overall in the championship points.
He also ran F4 campaigns in the United Arab Emirates Championship and competed with Prema Racing in nine races in the inaugural Euro 4 Championship this year.
The Toyota FT-60 Formula Regional car will represent a step up in speed and power for Lacorte but it’s a challenge he is looking forward to.
“This is really an exciting opportunity for me, and I am looking forward to starting my season in 2024 in New Zealand,” he said.
“I am happy I am in the right place and platform to develop my career and I am determined to do as much as I can, while doing the best possible job with M2 Competition. The Castrol Toyota FR Oceania Championship is an excellent place for a young driver to work and learn, and I intend to make the most of this opportunity.”
He will be a welcome addition to M2 Competition’s lineup for the New Zealand championship, as team boss Mark Pilcher explained. “It is our pleasure to welcome Nicola and the Alpine Academy to the team and to CTFROC, and we look forward to helping him prepare in the best way possible for his 2024 main season.
“Make no mistake, the racing once again will be ultra-competitive as always, and that’s the best environment for any rising stars.”
The New Zealand championship will see all drivers competing in Tatuus-based Toyota FT60 cars at five very different circuits in New Zealand’s north and South Islands over five consecutive weekends. There’s plenty of testing mileage as well as practice, qualifying and racing and the season concludes with the 68th New Zealand Grand Prix.
It’s a championship that has now seen more than 20 of its graduates compete or practice during an official F1 Grand Prix weekend, with 2019 champion Liam Lawson the latest in a line that includes Lando Norris, Lance Stroll, Guanyu Zhou and Yuki Tsunoda to impress in the sport’s premier championship.