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The young drivers in the Toyota 86 Championship have many reasons to race – as many as there are racers in the championship.
Some aspire to a racing careers in GT/endurance events, some are too young to step up into premier single seater categories, some are learning their craft with an eye to a seat in the Australian Supercars Championship.
All have enjoyed their chance to rub shoulders with the Castrol Toyota Racing Series (TRS) drivers, but the ‘86ers’ have their own championship to contest and their own diverse aspirations to foster.
The championship remains New Zealand’s premier single-make sports coupe series, and in the past 18 months its relevance as an incubator of driving talent has come to the fore in an unexpected way.
While the intention was always to model the championship closely on the TRS, it has now begun to deliver racers into TRS, becoming ‘vertically integrated’. Armstrong, Cockerton and now the current season’s crop of Cockerton, Yardley (TR 86 champion last year) and Harker (second behind Yardley) has stepped up from the sports coupes to the single-seaters. Even motorsport legend Kenny Smith, who contested his 47th Grand Prix in an FT 50 at Manfeild this year, has raced in the 86s and owns a car.
The intensity of competition and the high race specification of the purpose built TR 86 cars create the perfect learning environment for racers looking to hone their skills as they progress.
Also emerging is the role of teams running two or more cars.
With the ability to share data between cars and for racers to talk their way through a lap after practicing, qualifying or racing, the championship is giving more back to every driver involved.
Fast rookies, returning racers, exciting on-track action and a range of ways to race – the Toyota 86 Championship in 2017- 2018 offers it all.