Albany race driver Reid Harker has won his class in the North Island endurance motor racing series, logging valuable race time in his Toyota TR 86 race car in the process.
Harker, 20, said he is “esctatic” to secure the result on the three-round series, having entered primarily to stay race-sharp during winter and gain more experience on the three circuits used, all of which are also venues for the 86 Championship. His victory confirms the adaptability of the 86 sports coupe in TR 86 race trim.
“The car was perfect and the seat time I have gained is invaluable. Because it was my first time racing in the endurance series I didn’t exactly know what to expect and was unsure how the TR 86 would compete with the higher horsepower cars, so this class win is a fantastic boost,” he said
Though Harker said the endurance series required a different approach to racing, the sports coupe’s known advantage was its balance and stability under braking which gave it competitive speed in the corners. Being consistently competitive across all three rounds was crucial. Initially, a class win looked a difficult task due to problems at the opening round.
“After puncturing a tyre at round one in Taupo, which put us out of the race, the class three title was looking doubtful but I was determined to push on and make the best of the series. Consistency always counts for so much,” he said.
Heavy rain drenched the track in round two at Hampton Downs and gave the team an unexpected advantage over bigger, more powerful cars. Harker found himself making the most of the TR 86’s handling and brakes and battling on almost-even terms with the faster – but less balanced – class one and two cars to finish sixth overall and first in class three. Multiple safety car intervals as other racers crashed out of the race kept him on the lead lap until the dying minutes of the race.
“This enabled me to put passes on V8 and GT cars – and then they would re-pass on the straights. Great racing!”
Harker said he was ‘praying for rain’ for the final round, held at Manfeild near Feilding over the weekend, but the track was dry for the race and he qualified in the middle of the grid.
“I had an intense race with a V8 ute early on, struggling to solidify a pass with the power of the ute too much to match in a straight line. We used pit stop strategy to get in front and hold the position till the finish, doing enough to pick up the overall win.”
Harker said he relished the complexity of endurance racing and the opportunity to formulate a pit stop strategy to gain time and track position.
“Endurance racing also makes you consider tyre management and teaches you how to save your tyres to have consistent speed throughout the race and give you something to fight with when needed. Now for the Championship!”
Toyota TR 86 Championship 2016 - 2017 race calendar
Round 1 04 – 06 Nov 2016 Pukekohe Park Raceway, Pukekohe (V8 Supercars)
Round 2 09 – 11 Dec 2016 Taupo Motorsport Park, Taupo
Round 3 13 -15 Jan 2017 Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Ruapuna, Christchurch
Round 4 20 - 22 Jan 2017 Teretonga Park, Invercargill
Round 5 10 - 12 Feb 2017 Manfeild, Feilding (New Zealand Grand Prix weekend)
Round 6 10 – 12 Mar 2017 Hampton Downs