Reigning National class Formula 3 champion Daniel McKenzie is to return for a full tilt at the Cooper Tires British F3 International title in 2010, it has been announced.
The 21-year-old will race a Mercedes-powered Fortec Motorsport Dallara and says he's confident that he and the team can enjoy a fantastic season.
McKenzie has spent the winter engaged in a punishing physical programme devised by an F1 trainer: "I have never been as fit in my life," said McKenzie, "and I'm hoping that I'll have the best stamina of any driver on the grid. I believe that the expansion to 30 races this year is really going to be a tough test.
"The team has been working extremely hard over the winter, as has Mercedes, and I have never been so excited and pumped-up at the beginning of a season. I cannot wait to get out in the car."
McKenzie won the National class in 11 of his 20 outings with Fortec in 2009, and finished all bar one race. It's that sort of consistency which he believes can pay dividends during the coming 30-race season.
"You don't have to win every race, nor even finish on the podium in every race, to win the title. But if you can finish nearly every race and score points, like I did last year, then the chances are that you will have a fantastic result in the championship," he added.
He is also excited to be partnering 18-year-old F3 rookie Oli Webb at Fortec: "I know Oli well and he's a good friend, and he will be quick, which is fantastic for me. I want a fast team-mate because that will push me forward and help progress the team."
Fortec's senior race engineer, Mick Kouros, meanwhile believes the McKenzie/Webb pairing will be good for the team.
"After winning the National title last year against tough opposition from Gabriel Dias, Daniel will form a solid team with Oliver Webb. We have a lot of confidence in Daniel's ability and we look forward to another successful season with him."
Kouros also confirmed that Fortec will be maintaining its relationship with HWA Mercedes into 2011: "We have been using Mercedes engines happily since 2006 and have recently signed with them for a further two seasons."