Taylor Cockerton heads into the final round of the 2018 Castrol Toyota Racing Series this weekend excited to be lining up once again for the New Zealand Grand Prix. It will be his third time on the grid at the Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon and he is determined as ever to step onto the top of the podium.
“Its (NZ GP) everything,” commented Cockerton. “It’s a huge event and one I haven’t had the success I desire so am determined as ever this weekend.”
“I have seen for many years those that have won the Grand Prix. It’s a pretty cool feeling for them. To win would be incredible and amazing.”
It will be the 15th time the NZGP has been held at Manfeild and the eleventh time the TRS has competed for it at the circuit.
“Personally I really enjoy it,” Cockerton said. “Its fast and flowing and the best track in the country for over taking.
“You can recover well if you make a mistake and is definitely a drivers track. “
The Toyota Racing Series over the years has shown that one of the keys to winning the Grand Prix is qualifying well.
“Qualifying is crucial, as with any circuit,” said Cockerton. “It’s a short track so traffic will be a problem in getting a clear run (in qualifying).”
With a 35-lap race the other key to winning will be taking advantage of track position and opportunities.
“If I can get into a position to challenge for the win I can take it. It is a matter of getting into that position.
“It can be a long race but Manfeild isn’t too bad on tyres but they still need to be managed. There needs to have some conservatism in the early stages but I need to be in contact with the top cars with ten laps to go. Anything can happen, particularly if there is a safety car.”
A sixth Kiwi driver will join the grid this weekend with 76-year-old Ken Smith lining up for his 47th NZ Grand Prix race.
“That will make it interesting,” commented Cockerton. “It’s great to have him back in the field. The forecast is for wet so he could be real fast. He knows how to race here in the wet.”
Cockerton sits eighth on the overall points table with fellow Kiwi Marcus Armstrong leading from Robert Shwartzman.
Drivers face qualifying on Saturday morning with a 20-lap Dan Higgins Memorial race in the afternoon. Sunday will see a shorter race in the morning before the New Zealand Grand Prix in the afternoon.
Overall points after 12 of 15 races - Top 10.
1, Marcus Armstrong, 761;
2, Robert Shwartzman, 728;
3, Richard Verschoor, 701;
4, Juan-Manuel Correa, 612;
5, James Pull, 581;
6, Clement Novalak (England) 539;
7, Brendon Leitch, 456;
8, Taylor Cockerton, 448;
9, Reid Harker, 430;
10, Ryan Yardley, 416.
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