Top British youngster Lando Norris has been forced to withdraw from defending his title in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series starting in New Zealand next month.
The 17-year-old has cited clashing commitments including attending the Autosport International Show in Birmingham where he will receive the coveted McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver award.
The show clashes with the opening round of the rapid fire TRS which runs a five-round calendar run over consecutive weekends.
“I’m massively disappointed to miss out on the opportunity to defend my Toyota Racing Series title but I believe I’ve taken the right decision although it was a very hard one to reach,” Norris said.
Norris produced a crushing performance to win the TRS earlier this year when he recorded six wins, 11 podiums, eight pole positions and five fastest laps.
A winner of the Formula Renault Eurocup and Formula Renault Northern European Cup titles this year, Norris is fully focussed on Formula 3.
“I need to be in the best possible shape, mentally and physically, from the start of the European F3 season in April,” he said.
“Being successful in F3 is my number one priority in 2017 so unfortunately it’s a case of sacrificing the TRS opportunity.
“Additionally, having recently won the McLaren Autosport Award, I really want to spend time at the Autosport International Show in January where I’ll also now have important commitments for the BRDC.”
TRS chiefs are expected to announce a replacement for Norris in the coming days.
The five round, 15-race Castrol Toyota Racing Series concludes with the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild near Palmerston North on February 11 and 12.