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Edge of your seat - The Toyota 86 Championship is all set to be a Cliffhanger! – By Richard Gee

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The sixth Toyota 86 Championship will once again be a major focus for domestic motorsport fans, and will unquestionably be the busiest and most closely fought championship in the history of the category.

A field of 17 drivers is expected to take to the track when the season begins at the Supercars Championship event at Pukekohe Park in the first weekend in November. The series then slots in as one of the major attractions in the largest and most significant motorsport series in the country – the SpeedWorks MotorSport NZ Championship series. This is where the major national titles in motor racing are fought out every year.

The series takes in some of the biggest racing events and the best motor racing circuits on offer in New Zealand, and as well as running on both the new and old configurations of the Pukekohe Park track will visit two tracks in the South Island. First it’s the fabulous, state-of-the art Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell and then it’s the iconic Teretonga Park, which is interestingly the southernmost race track in the world.

After that the Toyota 86 Championship will return to the North Island to be part of the New Zealand Grand Prix meeting at Manfeild: Circuit Chris Amon in February, before concluding at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park in North Waikato in March. And to finish off a great summer of racing, the drivers will compete in a one-hour endurance race at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupō in April.

With more talent running in the series than ever before, and with a unique-to-Toyota rule where valuable data from the fastest lap of each session will be shared with teams and drivers, margins between racers will be negligible and it will be a worthy winner indeed who takes the crown in March.

Testing and preparation for the drivers are already at a high level, with each driver looking to gain an advantage in as many areas as possible – data analysis, physical fitness, simulator time and more besides. It’s all happening right now and helping to shape and refine the best up-and-coming racers in New Zealand today into champions of tomorrow. No fewer than eight of the racers competing this coming season have been through New Zealand’s Elite Motorsport Academy, where the best of the best learn what’s required to make a successful career out of motor racing.

There’s also a bit more at stake for the drivers than a national title.This year’s prize for the champion rookie racer will be an international race-driving experience.

If you cannot make it to any of the events – and we strongly recommend that you do – you will be able to catch them all on live web-streams or as highlights packages on TV after each round.