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Driver Database News

The latest news from the world of racing


Archive for January, 2012

Jono LesterJono Lester has held onto his lead in the 2012 Toyota Racing Series Rookie standings despite a challenging outing at the Taupo Motorsport Park over the weekend.

The 22-year old made good of his ‘home track’ knowledge from the outset at Taupo, heading the field in Thursday pre-testing, however inexperience on new tyres hampered Lester in qualifying, managing just 12th position.

The importance of qualifying well in such a competitive championship was realised over the three races, with Lester starting outside of the top ten in all three, and improving to finish in eleventh in the opening race, and ninth in both races two and three on Sunday.

“Everyone knows qualifying is a vital ingredient in any racing, just I realised just how much that’s magnified in a single seater after this weekend,” Lester explained.

“As usual my race pace was good, but that means very little when you’re caught in the pack on a circuit where passing proves both difficult and highly risky.”

On a positive note, Lester was happy with his progression over the weekend as he continues to learn the intricate tuning parameters of a single seater race car.

“We tried a whole bunch of changes this weekend. The last race in particular we seem to have latched onto something, which gives us a really good starting point for Hampton Downs.

“Of course, apart from scoring solid points there, my goal is to get my qualifying sorted. It’s a fine art in one of these cars – the European drivers have it down pat and it’s a flaw in my game that I need to address immediately!”

Lester now sits in eighth overall in the points standings with two rounds remaining, and leads the Rookie standings over Russian driver Dimitri Suranovich and Brazilian Bruno Bonifacio.

Lester is supported in his campaign by the New Zealand Motorsport Trust & The Lion Foundation, and partnered with Counties Toyota, TradeZone Industrial, Ports of Auckland, Vortex Racewear, Hornet Nutrition, Opti-Flex, Chemz, Webdesign, iSign it, R Redpath Limited, Sony Electronics, Loaded Sports Drink and Zero Water.

Photo by Bruce Jenkins/TRS

Andrea CaldarelliAndrea Caldarelli has been announced as the junior driver for TOYOTA Racing in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship. Andrea, 21, is a former member of the TOYOTA Young Driver Programme (TDP) and has previously raced in Formula Nippon and Formula 3. The talented Italian has shown promise throughout his career and as junior driver for TOYOTA Racing he is expected to become familiar with a new discipline; endurance racing. To assist his development, Andrea will be present at the race track during several FIA World Endurance Championship events, where he will take an active part in briefings and technical discussions. In addition, he will take part in several sessions on the driving simulator at TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH, becoming familiar with LMP1 cars and the circuits they race on.

Andrea Caldarelli
“I am really pleased to be joining TOYOTA Racing as the junior driver and I expect to gain a lot of invaluable experience. Even though I have been racing cars since 2005, I am still only 21 so there is plenty to learn and this is another milestone in my career. I know some of the guys in the team having been part of the TDP scheme for several years so it will be fun to work together again. For a young driver like myself to work as part of such a professional and experienced team will be a big benefit and I am looking forward to learning a lot more about the challenge of endurance racing”.

Shahaan Engineer - Toyota Racing SeriesShahaan Engineer enjoyed a successful debut weekend in the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand, the 16 year old taking sixth place from a 19 strong grid in the ‘Spirit of a Nation’ feature race, despite being the youngest driver in the series.

This year’s Toyota Racing Series has the most international flavour of any in the championship’s history with 19 drivers from 12 countries, and four continents, the standard, therefore, is incredibly high.

The opening race saw Shahaan finish eleventh after a throttle problem deprived him off a top six finish, which was exactly where he finished in race two in severe weather conditions including rain and hail.

ETEC Motorsport team principal Trevor Sheumack on Shahaan’s impressive feature race finish: “Despite being the youngest driver on the grid of this, the most concentrated racing series in the world, Shahaan remained focused and brought the car home weather conditions severe even as per Invercargill standards.”

Conditions for the third race were even more shocking with rivers of water covering the track. Shahaan led the 19-strong field from the reverse top six pole position, as rainfall and increasing winds made racing near-impossible.

Unfortunately, contact with another driver ended his race just one corner before it was declared ended due to force Majeure. “I had no heat in my brakes and drove over the weather condition limits. No points for the third race;” Reiterated the young teenager, but I wouldn’t exchange the experience for anything as I got a rare chance this early in my career to experience leading a world-class field of senior drivers on the first race weekend in a premier single seater series under historically severe conditions where the race was declared after just one lap.”

Round two of the back-to-back five weekend Toyota Racing Series will take place on 21st/22nd January at Timaru International Raceway. At the conclusion of the New Zealand championship, Shahaan will return to Britain where he will prepare for his first full season in the Certina Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship with reigning champion team Fortec Motorsports.

Alice PowellAlice has been selected as A BRDC rising star for a second year running, due to her achievements in 2011. Aged 24 and under, the BRDC Rising Stars are very much the future of the Club, today. Scouted from trackside, the BRDC Rising Stars are in effect ‘Junior Members’ of the Club, all taking their motor racing very seriously and all aiming for a professional career within the sport.

Lewis Hamilton and Alex Lloyd are just two success stories from the Rising Star scheme, so the BRDC Rising Star panellist, has a proven track record of selecting only the best of individuals.

18 year-old Alice is the 2010 Formula Renault BARC Champion scoring two wins, seven podiums and two pole positions and finished runner up in the 2011 MRF Championship in India. Speaking about being selected, Alice commented “I am extremely pleased to be selected again and would like to thank the BRDC for this opportunity and also everyone who has helped me last year, giving me the chance to be on the scheme again”.

However, it is not yet known what Alice will be racing in this year, as funding is not yet in place. There is a wide range of packages offered to those who wish to help fund Alice this year, so if you would like to support Alice through sponsorship, please visit or email

Cyrus Engineer13 year old Cyrus Engineer won round five of the AARKC Rotax Junior max UAE championship and round three of the DAMC karting championships which took place at Dubai’s premier karting venue, the Dubai Kartdrome on Friday 20th January 2012 when the season resumed for the new year.

Dubai Tracktalk officials noted – “The Junior Max class is proving to be a hotbed of very close action with at least half a dozen drivers capable of victory, but Cyrus Engineer took top honours in the Final.”

Qualifying 3rd overall – following an extremely close timed practice session in which he missed out on pole position by mere hundredths of a second – the young Zanardi pilot saw his mettle tested with some bad luck during the heats and Pre-Final. Undeterred, the 13-year old remained focused on taking victory by 6 seconds, when it really mattered – in the Final.

Cyrus said of his win, “It was close all day. There was very little between us with many drivers on the pace, but in the end I stuck to my game plan and made all the right moves. I am very happy to win the final.”

Round 6 of the ten round AARKC championship will be held in early February at Al Ain International Raceway, home of the 2011 Rotax Grand finals. Keep up to speed with Cyrus and his karting career at