Bravery and precision are the order of the day for the drivers in New Zealand’s leading one-make sports coupe series as they prepare to race on the fast straights and bumpy corners of the Pukekohe circuit in south Auckland.
Wellington driver Jamie McNee arrives at Pukekohe this weekend with the single-minded aim of defending his title. He currently shares the series lead on 187 points with Ash Blewett.
The opening round of the championship at Taupo highlighted the close and fiercely competitive nature of the racing, with three drivers taking wins.
Former Wanganui driver Matt Gibson won the first race in the Lighting Plus car. McNee, driving for the ETEC Tyreplus team, won the second.
When the leading cars were taken out of contention in a spectacular crash halfway through the third race of the first round Christchurch driver Marcus Armstrong won his first Toyota Finance 86 Championship race.
Fourteen-year-old Armstrong, who is mentored by experienced race driver and engineer Andy Neale, took the lead with four laps to go and held out a hard-charging Ash Blewett to win and become the youngest driver to win a Toyota category race in New Zealand.
Seven of the drivers who contested the inaugural championship are back for another tilt at the title: McNee, Blewett, Gibson, Armstrong, Callum Quin, Tom Alexander and Neil Allport. The 2.91 km Pukekohe circuit is the fastest in the championship and the race lap record for the category was set by experienced touring car racer Angus Fogg in the inaugural championship: he set a 1:15.159 in the third race of the 2013 weekend.
The 2014-2015 Toyota Finance 86 Championship is open to teams and drivers using the New Zealand-built TR 86 race cars and will be contested over six rounds. It has its own TV package (screening on the Friday after each event) and features races at V8 Supertourer and Toyota Racing Series events on circuits from Invercargill to Auckland.
Pictured: Jamie McNee leads the field during the second race at Taupo. This image is attached in original resolution and images of other championship drivers are available by email request.
Points totals after round one of the Toyota Finance 86 Championship