2017/2018 Season Drivers
03 - Michael Scott - International Motorsport
City / Location: Auckland (originally Te Puke)
DOB: 2 December 1994 (age at start of 2017-2018 championship: 23)
Team: International Motorsport
Car number: 3
Michael Scott started his karting career in 2007, was Formula F1600 champion in 2015-2016, competed in the Toyota Racing Series for two seasons and two in the Toyota 86 Championship that culminated in a third overall in 2016-2017.
He raced TRS while studying mechanical engineering at tertiary level, and won the Formula F1600 Championship while also racing the Toyota 86 Championship.
Michael is now employed as a race engineer.
He made his Toyota 86 debut as one of two drivers awarded CareVets Racing scholarships. Hard work brought its own reward - not only did he win the Formula Ford championship but he was also fourth overall in the 86 series, edging out teammate Ryan Yardley who was fifth.
The following year he raced with the support of International Motorsport (IM) to third overall despite a massive crash at the first round. He returns this year as part of a two-car campaign under the IM umbrella.
In this year’s Toyota 86 Championship Michael is taking aim at the outright title.
09 - Connor Adam - International Motorsport
Born: 8 November 1998 (age at start of 2017-2018 championship: 19)
Team/entrant: International Motorsport
Car number: 9
Connor Adam made his 86 debut in last year’s series, taking a podium finish and finishing eighth in a field of 20. The Auckland-based 19 year old started his racing career in karts at the age of seven and has been racing for an unbroken 12 years with a best karting result of second in the 2015-2016 ProKart Championship in KZ2.
The 2016-2017 Toyota 86 Championship was his first experience in full-sized cars. It was a transition he found relatively easy.
Connor says his favourite circuit is either Ruapuna near Christchurch or Pukekohe, where racing in front of the massive V8 Supercar crowd at New Zealand’s biggest sporting event gives drivers a “huge boost”.
“That whole weekend is just amazing, what a way to start the Championship!”
This year the Championship runs on a semi-slick Hankook tyre which Connors says are predictable have good cornering grip.
Connor’s goal this year is to be in the top three at the end of the six round Championship.
53 - Jaden Ransley
Born: 16 January 2002 (age at start of 2017-2018 championship: 15)
Team/entrant: Nigel Ransley
Car number: 53
Young Christchurch racer Jaden Ransley has big plans for his return to the Toyota 86 Championship.
Jaden was just 14 years old when he contested last year’s Championship, making him one of the youngest ever. Before making his debut in the Toyota 86 Championship, he had never driven a manual-shift car and as he goes into this year’s six-round series he is 15, still too young to hold a road licence.
He is no recent arrival in motorsport though: Jaden has raced karts for six years, winning two national KartSport titles and another pair in the South Island.
Jaden has received support and advice from Christchurch-based race engineer Andy Neale, who has worked in Formula One and took Singaporean Andrew Tang to the Toyota Racing Series title in 2014.
Now 15, and with the opening round of the 2017-2018 Toyota 86 Championship a few weeks away, Jaden is boldly taking aim at the title. Totally sold on single-make racing, Jaden says he wants to contest the Australian Toyota 86 Racing Series in 2018 and then move to the Porsche Carrera Cup.
17 - Jack Milligan - CareVets Racing
Born: 17 August 1996 (age at start of 2017-2018 championship: 21)
Team/entrant: CareVets Racing
Car number: 17
Jack Milligan won the 2016-2017 CareVets Racing Scholarship to compete in the Toyota 86 Championship, defeating 11 other candidates in the process.
He then finished fourth in the Championship, taking out the prize for best rookie.
This year Jack is back as senior driver in the two-car CareVets team and is taking aim at the title. He will also mentor the new scholarship driver, Bramwell King. The pair will share data and race strategies to maximize their competitiveness as the championship progresses.
Jack raced karts from 2011-2013 and then contested the ‘Pro7’ RX7 Series for three seasons, finishing second overall in 2015-2016.
He has just returned from a trip to Bathurst set up by category management where he was fifth and third in two of the three races for the Australian series.
98 - Dylan Gulson
City/location: Bathurst, Australia.
Born: 27 January 1992 (age at start of 2017-2018 championship: 25)
Car number: 98
Dylan Gulson went wheel to wheel with New Zealand’s own Jack Milligan at Bathurst in October.
Now the 25-year old Aussie plans to return the favour and race in the Toyota 86 Championship at its opening round, held as part of the V8 Supercar race weekend at Pukekohe.
Dylan is the latest racer in a family with a long and proud tradition of motor racing. During the 1980s and 1990s his uncles Ray and Paul contested premier races on both sides of the Tasman including the Bathurst 1000 and the Wellington Street Race.
Hot from his first ever win in the Australian Toyota 86 Racing Series, where he scored a dream ‘hometown’ victory at Bathurst, Dylan says he is looking forward to competing at Pukekohe as the V8 Supercar Championship rolls into New Zealand for this country’s largest sporting event.
He started his motor racing career in karts fifteen years ago and followed that with stints in a range of single make series.
Long-term, Dylan’s aim is to secure a V8 Supercar or international GT drive.
11 - Tom Alexander - Kenny Smith
Born: 2 June 1994 (age at start of 2017-2018 championship: 23)
Team/entrant: Kenny Smith
Car number: 11
Tom Alexander is back – the lanky Cantabrian, now living in Auckland, won the Toyota 86 Championship in 2015 then tried his hand at the NZV8 Touring Cars. Two seasons later, and with a best result of second overall in the 2016-2017 NZV8s, Tom returns to the close and even racing of the 86 Championship.
Like most racers, Tom started out in karting. Beginning in 2005, he contested a number of classes. Over the following six years and then jumped into a Dallara F3 single seater for the 2011 Hampton Downs Formula Libre winter series and never looked back.
In the following seasons he raced Formula Ford and then the Toyota 86 Championship, finishing fourth in 2013-2014 and then winning in 2014-2015.
For the 2017-2018 Toyota 86 Championship, Tom will drive the former LightingPlus car recently purchased by his mentor, the legendary Kenny Smith.
The car has done some racing but up to now not a lot of winning – something Tom is uniquely capable of setting right.
Tom’s mantra: “to make it as a professional racing driver requires determination, hard work, commitment and focus.”
07 - Sam Wright - Richards Team Motorsport
City/location: Clevedon, Auckland
Born: 25 April 2003 (age at start of 2017-2018 championship: 14)
Team/entrant: Richards Team Motorsport
Car number: 7
A young man on a mission: Sam Wright is stepping directly from karting into the Toyota 86 Championship, driving the Richards Team Motorsport Toyota 86.
The Paeroa-based Richards brothers have been staunch supporters of the 86 Championship from its beginning.
Just 14, and a student at St Kentigern’s College in Auckland, Sam has been karting in New Zealand and Australia since 2009. He won cadet class in the 2013 Top Half Series and is the 2017 New Zealand National Schools Champion.
Making his debut in the 2017-2018 Toyota 86 Championship, he is thus making the tricky transition up to a full-sized sports coupe and to car-type manual gear shifting all in the same move.
With plenty of time to prove himself, Sam has his sights set on a V8 Supercar drive.
23 - Jordan Baldwin
City/location: Howick, Auckland
Born: 19 March 1998 (age at start of 2017-2018 championship: 19)
Car number: 23
University student and race driver: Jordan Baldwin divides his time between race circuit and ‘the books’, studying a Bachelor of Commerce at Massey University.
His motorsport career started ‘late’ at the age of 14 in an unorthodox form: Ministocks, where he was rookie of the year 2012-2013. He went karting for two years, then stepped up into the BMW one-make race series, winning a scholarship to race in 2016 and finishing the year fourth overall, top rookie.
Jordan was also named top graduate in 2016 at the Elite Motorsport Academy, which has steered the careers of a steady stream of racers who are now becoming household names.
Racing this year with support from Novus, Jordan has firm plans for his motorsport career. He wants to be top rookie in the TR 86 series this year and finish fourth overall or better, and then ‘jump the ditch’ to Australia to secure a drive in the Dunlop feeder series to the V8 Supercars. Ultimate goal? A V8SC drive.
05 - Cameron Hill - Speedworks
City/location: Canberra, Australia
Born: 26 November 1996 (age at start of 2017-2018 championship: 20)
Car number: 5
One of two rising Australian race stars to cross the Tasman and compete at the opening round of the New Zealand championship, Hill – together with Dylan Gulson – is aiming to score a podium finish at Pukekohe in front of the massive V8 Supercars crowd.
If watching New Zealand’s Jack Milligan hit the podium at Bathurst in October wasn’t motivation enough, the chance to race in front of New Zealand’s biggest sporting crowd and on live television back home is an added incentive.
Cameron won the Australian Formula Ford series in 2015, was third overall in the Australian Toyota 86 Racing Series in 2016 and is currently second overall in Australia with five wins to his name and one round remaining. Kiwi drivers should not discount his pace when they grid up this year at Pukekohe.
18 - Bramwell King - CareVets Racing
City / Location: Palmerston North
Born: 11 December 1995 (age at start of 2017-2018 championship: 21)
Team/entrant: CareVets Racing
Car number: 18
Palmerston North racer Bramwell King arrives in the 2017-2018 Toyota 86 Championship as team-mate to Jack Milligan in the CareVets racing line-up.
He has taken over the CareVets Racing Scholarship after Pukekohe’s Liam Lawson was unable to take up the position.
Bramwell, 21, has risen through the traditional path – starting at age 6 in karting, then stepping up to Formula First with Sabre Motorsport at age 12. He won the Formula First Winter Series in 2009 and then won the Star Car Championship in 2012-2013 and the the Formula First Championship in 2016-2017.
Now he moves into the cut-and-thrust intensity of single make sport coupe championship racing with CareVets and says he is looking forward to being part of a professional two-car team where drivers can exchange ideas about trimming time off laps and the car setup process is based around data shared across both vehicles.
Bramwell is a student at Massey University and says his ambition is to progress to a point where he can make a living from motorsport.
35 - Ben MacDonald
Born: 21 August 1995 (age at start of 2017-2018 championship: 22)
Team/entrant: Derek MacDonald
Car number: 35
Single make racer, endurance racer, passionate about cars and racing: Ben MacDonald returns for a second year in the Toyota 86 Championship. He contested two rounds (six races) in the 2016-2017 championship and returns to gain more experience and hone his racecraft and pace for future challenges in other ‘tintop’ categories.
04 - Reid Harker - Ascent Motorsport
City/location: Albany, New Zealand
Born: 22 August 1995 (age at start of 2017-2018 championship: 22)
Team/entrant: Ascent Motorsport
Car number: 4
One of the ‘finds’ of the Toyota 86 Championship, Reid Harker is back for one round. Drawn by the close racing, by the chance to compete in front of the V8 Supercars crowd at Pukekohe and also by the chance to sharpen up his racecraft and speed in preparation for the coming summer of motor racing, Reid is one of the drivers to watch at the first round.
With the #4 Aegis Oils/Washworld car sold, he will be making the most of some fast laps at Pukekohe, a circuit he enjoys for its challenge. The secret to a fast lap? Getting the best launch out of the hairpin and carrying all possible speed over the top of the ‘mountain’ onto the front straight. Getting the kerbs right is crucial too – not enough kerb and the lap time is down; too much risks damage to the suspension or underside of the car.
Note the name – Reid’s going places in 2018.
05 - Martin Short
Born: 5 February 1991 (age at start of 2017-2018 championship: 26)
Car number: 5
Martin began his racing career in 2005, competing in the Rotax Max Challenge.
He won the junior class in Rotax Max the following year then in 2007 graduated from karting to Formula Ford., racing in a range of these series until 2008-2009 when he switched to the Australian Formula 3 Championship.
He kept up his Formula Ford competition in Australia and New Zealand and in 2009-2010 was New Zealand Formula Ford Champion. The following season he made the big move to the NZV8s, and continued to race the as the Tl and TLX specifications were finalised. He was third in TLX class in 2011-2012 with Richards Team Motorsport.
Martin is racing this year’s Toyota 86 Championship in the car used by Australian Cameron Hill at the first round. This is his third partial season in the fast-paced 86 Championship.
55 - Nathan Pilcher
City/location: Grey Lynn, Auckland
Born: 15 March 1989 (age at start of 2017-2018 championship: 28)
Car number: 55
New arrival Nathan Pilcher has three seasons of NZV8 racing behind him and wide experience of endurance racing.
Born in Dunedin, he has been following his motor racing dream all his life.
Working overseas when he received a call from Owen Evans, he returned to New Zealand to join the Evans Motorsport operation supporting Owen’s son Simon
He says the contrast between his V8 experiences and the TR86 race cars is significant.
"The 86 is a balanced wee car, the brakes and suspension work well together and you have to work on your lap all the time to string together a competitive time. The V8s have that massive wedge of torque which is exciting but can make you a lazy driver. So joining the 86 Championship is keeping me sharp, and that’s great!"
Nathan is hoping to bring the SMEG Racing operation to more rounds of the Championship in 2018.