Trans-Tasman battle looms as Kiwi 86 stars tackle Aussie 86 series
Reid Harker of Albany will join Ryan Yardley in the Australian Toyota 86 Racing Series which starts this weekend at Phillip Island in Victoria.
Yardley, 18, won the six-round New Zealand Championship with Harker finishing second. Now the pair begin their international racing career in the 38-strong grid for the Australian ‘Pro-Am’ series, which runs at V8 Supercar rounds.
Harker, 21, has raced two full seasons of the Toyota 86 Championship in New Zealand. He began his racing career in karting then moved into the Castrol BMW Race Driver Series in a BMW E30 before stepping up into the Toyota 86 Championship in 2015-2016.
Like Yardley, Harker says he is looking forward to the challenge of new circuits and racing in cars with a different specification to the TR 86 race cars used in New Zealand.
“It’s a competitive series with plenty of experienced drivers. I want to take that next step.”
Confirmation of the dual Kiwi challenge re-ignites a trans-Tasman rivalry that began with Aussies Will Brown and Drew Ridge contesting the opening round of the 2016-2017 New Zealand championship in November 2016.
“I’ve been racing 86s in New Zealand for a couple of years now and we’ve been looking for something new, something fresh, and something that’s going to challenge me.”
Toyota 86 Championship Category Manager Geoff Short says confirmation that Harker will join Yardley is “fantastic news”.
The pair went wheel to wheel at every round of the NZ championship, he said, and can be expected to be very competitive in Australia once familiarised with the characteristics of the Aussie cars.
“This is a tremendous challenge for the pair and a huge opportunity for them to make their mark internationally,” he said.
The Phillip Island race weekend begins with two practice sessions on Friday followed by qualifying on Saturday Morning. There are three races for the 86 series: Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon.