Toyota Motorsport GmbH has finalised the plan and format of its ongoing young drivers' programme with a new name and new drivers for 2003.
The "Toyota Drivers Academy" will be run with a total of five young drivers, participating in various junior formulae throughout 2003. Prema Powerteam has again been selected to run the programme on behalf of Toyota.
21-year-old Australian Ryan Briscoe and 18-year-old Frenchman Franck Perera have been reconfirmed for their third year of involvement in the scheme. For 2003, Briscoe will drive in the new European Formula 3 championship, after claiming 16 points from 10 race weekends in German F3 last year. After a successful season in Italian Formula Renault in 2002, Perera will continue in this series in 2003, and additionally take part in the Eurocup events.
Three new drivers have recently been added to the programme. Up-and-coming Japanese drivers, 21-year-old Katsuyuki Hiranaka and 16-year-old Kouhei Hirate as well as 19-year-old Brazilian Roberto Streit will all drive for Prema Powerteam in 2003. Hirate and Streit will join Franck Perera in Italian Formula Renault and Eurocup, whilst Hiranaka teams up with Ryan Briscoe in Euro F3 and in the Zandvoort Masters.
The Toyota Driver Academy is much more than a driving school, explains Toyota Motorsport Team Manager Ange Pasquali, who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Toyota Drivers Academy. "It is a pleasure to welcome Hiranaka, Hirate and Streit to our Toyota Drivers Academy, joining Ryan and Franck. I am confident we have some stars of the future in these guys and I am excited about the season ahead. Our academy is much more than just driving. We focus on the overall ability of the driver, developing a wide range of driving and social skills. It is our aim with this scheme to produce high level sportsmen and ambassadors for Toyota".