Chris Vlok is the latest driver to confirm his spot on the grid for the full 2021 Castrol Toyota Racing Series, eight years after his first gig.
The 28-year-old who hails from Christchurch will race in all three rounds of the series, with the first being the 66th New Zealand Grand Prix at Hampton Downs.
Vlok last raced in the open-wheel category back in 2012 for Victory Motorsport. A turbulent season saw him finish 15th overall.
Before that, he proved himself to be a race winner in the South Island Formula Ford Championship – taking three victories from four races in the 2011-2012 series.
Since then, Vlok has established himself as a global sporting entrepreneur. He has worked with the likes of the Williams F1 team, Racing Point F1 team, Inter Milan Football Club and the Boston Red Sox’s, setting up strategic deals and technology partnerships.
A significant partner of Vlok, United States-based Fleet Cost & Care, is expanding its fleet management software globally in 2021. Thus, a TRS seat created the perfect foundation for the brand’s launch in New Zealand; and for Vlok, he has never lost his enthusiasm for racing.
“It’s really an alignment of the stars, everything fitted perfectly for both myself and Fleet Cost & Care’s plans for the next 12 months,” Vlok said.
“With my main partners knowing motorsport through their relationship with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing over the past six years and having global expansion plans a high-profile motorsport series like TRS is was an easy choice for us all.
“Alongside my business interests and aspirations, I’ve never lost my hunger to race and TRS provides a great opportunity for me to step back into a serious car and an ultra-competitive series with close, hard driving. And best of all, without even having to do a long-haul flight to my races for once.
“The new era TRS cars are a lot closer to something you’d find in Europe and is effectively a Formula 3 car now with the latest technology & safety designs taken into consideration, so it’s an absolute pleasure to drive.”
Vlok can boast some international experience under his belt, including a season in British Formula 3 in 2013.
He competed in two races in the F3 European Open in 2012, finishing fifth overall in his first outing.
In 2016 he also raced a KTM X-Bow in the Pro class of the Competition102 GT4 European Series with Reiter Engineering, scoring one pole position and narrowly missing out on a maiden win in the two-hour endurance race at Spa Francorchamps.
The last few weeks have seen a busy Vlok undergo a strenuous two-month training programme to meet the Toyota FT60’s physical demands.
“I’ve lost over six kilos already and I’ve been going as hard as I can with my training and preparation to make sure I will be as ready as I can be when the first session begins,” he said.
“I’ve tested the car twice now and have a good understanding of where I need to be physically, and that’s where a lot of my preparation has been directed.
“We are looking forward to challenging the unique field that Toyota has put together for this Grand Prix. There are generations of great drivers racing both new and old so it’s going to be a great experience to race against this diverse field.”
2021 Castrol Toyota Racing Series:
- Round one: Hampton Downs 22nd – 24th January
- Round two: Hampton Downs 28th – 30th January
- Round three: Manfeild 12th – 14th February
Main Image: TGRNZ