Jacob Douglas has sights set on 2024 Toyota Formula Regional
By: Velocity News
August 23, 2023
An extended break between Coopers Tyres USF2000 Championship rounds has allowed Kiwi teenager Jacob Douglas to return home to Christchurch and hone his skills for what shapes up to be a busy 12 months ahead.
While the long-term plan is to remain on the Road to Indy Pathway, a long off-season has opened the exciting possibility of Douglas applying his learnings from the United States in the upcoming Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship.
“It’s a pretty exciting goal,” said Douglas. “We’ve wanted to do it for the last two years, but it just hasn’t come together with clashes with my overseas schedule, the impact of Covid and funding. I think this time is a great opportunity to do it.”
The team is now working on putting a package together to enable his place on the grid, with acquiring sponsorship a top priority.
“The Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship is a world-class series,” Douglas continues. “It’d be great to show how the skills I’ve learnt in the States compare against some of New Zealand’s best. We still have to secure some more funding before we can guarantee our spot, but it’s coming together nicely.”
The 17-year-old is no stranger to the FT60s used in the championship, having tested in them in the past and setting an unofficial lap record at Hampton Downs in his last outing.
The team also invested in an FT50 two years ago and use it to test as often as possible whenever Douglas returns to New Zealand.
While there are differences between the FT60 and the USF2000 car Douglas has driven for the past two seasons, he says he’s learned to adjust quickly.
“The FT60, in general, is a level up,” he says. “There are lots of similarities, of course, but the more you drive in different cars, the quicker you adapt.
“My USF car doesn’t have quite as much downforce, but the straight-line speed is similar. I can take the same braking techniques and racecraft I’m learning and bring them into the FT60.”
In the short-term, one round remains in the USF2000 season, set to take place at Portland International Raceway from August 31-September 3.
While Douglas is out of championship contention after missing a round following a team change mid-season, he has shown he has the ability to mix it at the front, taking a podium on his Pabst Racing debut at Road America.
“I’ve enjoyed being with Pabst Racing,” says Douglas. “Their driver coach, Bob Perona, is fantastic. He also works with Hunter McElrea in the Indy NXT program. Seeing the same things being taught at the levels above shows that I’m learning the right things.
“I was working with Dan Gaunt the other day, also, and what he was teaching was on a par with what they’re teaching me over there, so what I’m learning is the right stuff, and I hope I can take that into the Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship, and use it for the rest of my career.
In the most recent race, he finished fifth in treacherous conditions on the Streets of Toronto, having qualified third.
“I think Toronto showed that we have taken that step forward. Although it didn’t quite play into our hands in the races with the weather and that, it’s our most positive weekend so far in USF2000,” says Douglas.
“We want to carry that momentum through and onto Portland and finish with a good result.”
Header Image: Supplied