The three drivers signed to the 2005 Toyota Young Drivers' Programme (TDP) are ready to put their pre-season test kilometres to good use as the Formula Renault and Formula 3 Euroseries championships get underway in the next fortnight.
Japanese youngster Kamui Kobayashi will open the TDP effort this weekend in the first Italian Formula Renault event of the season in Vallelunga. Kobayashi has already made his mark in the series, having taken two victories in his debut season in 2004. His dominance in pre-2005 season testing puts Kobayashi in a strong position to challenge for the championship this time around.
Frenchman Franck Perera and Japanese Kohei Hirate will lead TDP's assault on the F3 Euroseries this season. Following in the footsteps of inaugural season champion and fellow Toyota driver Ryan Briscoe, Perera finished top of the rookies' classification in 2004, courtesy of four excellent podiums during the season. Now in his second season with Prema Powerteam's F3 squad, Perera is looking for nothing less than the championship title in 2005. His pre-season test form has made him the man to beat in the competitive series, which starts next weekend in Hockenheim.
Hirate will join Team Rosberg in 2005 and be looking to battle hard with his TDP colleague, Perera. 2005 will be a learning curve for Hirate having made a smooth transition from last year's Italian Formula Renault championship.
Managing the Toyota Young Drivers' Programme from Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Cologne, Yoshinori Arimatsu, has set high targets for the TDP trio this season: "Our three drivers for 2005 have all shown that they have unrivalled natural racing talent. Kamui leads our challenge in Formula Renault this year and has already been quick in recent testing. He has matured as a driver since last season and I think he is capable of challenging for his first title this year. Over in Formula 3, we have placed Franck and Kohei in different teams this year to double our efforts in the championship. As reigning rookie champion, Franck must be looking to get some race victories this year and take the drivers' title by the end of the season. Kohei has been learning all about his new Team Rosberg, getting to know the car and he is well placed to enjoy a competitive performance this year. All in all, TDP drivers should be at the sharp end of the grid at each and every event in 2005 and look to ce!
ment the Toyota Young Drivers' Programme as the most competitive scheme of its type in Europe."