Finnish car racing rookie Niklas Tiihonen will make his single-seater debut as a privateer entrant in the Protyre Formula Renault Championship this year after today, Friday, 7th March, confirming his participation in the UK-based category under the Circulation Motorsport banner.
The 18-year-old, from Vantaa near Helsinki, has won numerous kart races and championship titles in recent years including a double success in 2010 with the Finnish KF3 Karting crown and the CIK-FIA Academy Trophy.
Having graduated into KF2 Karting in 2011 in the Finish national championships, ending the season fourth overall, he stepped-up into the European Championship the following year and was third in the prestigious Trofeo delle Industrie. Last year, Tiihonen competed in the Rotax Euro Challenge and finished the campaign sixth overall.
Now ready for his graduation into ‘slicks and wings’ car racing, the Mäkelänrinne Sport High School student is aiming for a consistently competitive year but fully understands the level of competition he will face.
“I see Protyre Formula Renault as a good step in my career”, said Tiihonen, “This is going to be my first year in single-seaters so I’m really excited and really looking forward to it. I want to gain a lot of experience and take in a lot of information but I’m not pressuring myself too much.
“I will put myself outside my comfort zone, though, and do my best. I’m really thankful to all of my sponsors who have given me this fantastic opportunity and I can’t wait until the first round, it should be a great year.”
Making his competitive karting debut at the tender age of six, Tiihonen – who brings a significant Finnish sponsorship portfolio with him into Protyre Formula Renault this year – really came to the fore nationally in 2009. Becoming Vice-Champion of the Finnish KF3 Championship and fifth in the prestigious Monaco Kart Cup, those results paved the way for title glory the following year.
Commenting on Tiihonen’s arrival into the championship, series promoter Simon North said: “While the professional teams in Protyre Formula Renault are the bedrock of the championship, privateer entrants like Niklas are an absolutely vital part of what the category is all about. His involvement in the championship and desire to come and race in the UK speaks volumes about the series’ status.
“From day one, Protyre Formula Renault has always been a place where privateers have been able to compete on an equal footing with the professional teams. We pride ourselves on having the most level playing field possible, as well as being extremely cost effective, and I am very much looking forward to see how Niklas progresses in his first season.”
The Finnish teenager’s first appearance on British soil at the wheel of his Tatuus FR 2.0 will come during the opening weekend of the Protyre Formula Renault Championship season, 5th/6th April, at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault is additionally supported by Michelin.