TOYOTA GAZOO Racing New Zealand has confirmed today that a lack of available spaces in managed isolation facilities means there will be no international drivers on the grid for the 2021 New Zealand Grand Prix or Castrol Toyota Racing Series.
The news comes just over a month since Toyota announced that oversea drivers had been given the go ahead to enter the country.
However, they must have arrived between January 3-6 to allow them to quarantine for 14 days.
Despite being one of 11 sporting events granted approval to utilise the managed isolation facilities, there are now no places within the time window for internationals to complete isolation in time to take part in the 2021 championship.
“After working with MBIE and Sport NZ we are disappointed that we are unable to get international drivers into NZ to compete due to the lack of space in MIQ facilities,” said General Manager of Motorsport, Andrew Davis.
“We had several international drivers lined up and ready to come, so we are disappointed that this is the end result, especially as we had worked hard to gain approved status.
“We have seen many of the TRS drivers go on to compete in Formula One including international and New Zealand drivers and we had done everything in our power to ensure this continued this season.
“The implications for the series are that the talented young New Zealand drivers racing will not get to compete against international drivers of a similar calibre. The economic impact of the international drivers coming into New Zealand is huge to the local areas where we race,” he added.
“However, we are excited for the series and it will definitely be one to watch this year with a lot of great up and coming Kiwi talent competing and a significant list of established Kiwi racers bolstering the field.”
Billed this year as the Race of Champions, the 2021 New Zealand Grand Prix at Hampton Downs could be one of the biggest for major Kiwi names since Bruce McLaren himself was behind the wheel.
Already, the likes of Greg Murphy, Chris van der Drift and Daniel Gaunt have been confirmed to participate in the 28-lap race.
However, with no international drivers to fill this year’s field, it could also mean that the 2021 grid may be one of the smallest in recent seasons.
This 2020 championship saw 19 drivers from outside New Zealand contest a five-round series. Champion for that season was Brazilian racer Igor Fraga.
The GP will run over the weekend of January 22nd-24th with practice, qualifying and two races for drivers before the New Zealand Grand Prix itself on Sunday.
It will be the first time the Grand Prix has been held at the North Waikato circuit, and the first TRS race held on the longer International Circuit configuration.