Closing race promised as Toyota Finance 86 Championship heads for Pukekohe
Angus Fogg is holding on to a narrow four point lead in the inaugural Toyota Finance 86 Championship going into the second round this weekend at Pukekohe.
The new series hits the track this weekend at the final round of the BNT V8 Supertourers at Pukekohe Park Raceway and Fogg will be looking over his shoulder at a bunch of young racers keen to topple him from his early championship lead. He will be busy all weekend, also racing in the main V8 SuperTourer category.
Two drivers are within easy striking distance: Jamie McNee (Wellington) and Tom Alexander (Christchurch) are second and third on points respectively, McNee just four points adrift and Alexander eight points behind. Fogg won two of three races at the opening round, but knows the young chargers are close behind and their single-seater experience will stand them in good stead at the significantly faster Pukekohe race track. All three are racing in the elite category for drivers with extensive top-level championship experience. Alexander was fourth in this year’s Formula Ford championship, while McNee was third overall in the Toyota Racing Series in 2011.
Former Wanganui driver Matt Gibson in fourth place leads the Amateur category; Matt Williams in sixth place leads the Masters category.
The series attracted a talented entry list for its inaugural round, the Highlands 101 (November 8-10). With equal performance between the locally built TR 86 race cars, the series places emphasis on driver ability and race-craft.
Angus Fogg came away from that first round with two race wins to lead the series despite a brush with Highlands Motorsport Park’s unforgiving concrete walls, and also leads the Elite category.
Drivers now face a new challenge on the faster straights and corners of Pukekohe. The series co-ordinator, Sam MacNeill, says “all bets are off – based on round one there are at least six guys capable of winning races and Pukekohe is likely to be even closer as it is well-known to most of the competitors”.
With 75 points on offer to the winner of each race, the championship lead is by no means certain.
This weekend, the drivers will also have the opportunity of establishing a new race lap record for the category.
Championship entries include Angus Fogg and Chris Lewis, Jamie McNee, Matt Gibson, Callum Quin, Tom Alexander, Ash Blewett, father and son team Bill and Matthew Williams and Tony Houston. Bill Williams will not be racing at this round due to a wrist injury sustained at round one.
The seven-round televised championship uses the locally-built Toyota TR 86, a racing version of the acclaimed 86 sports coupe. It carries a prize fund of $20,000 to be shared between the overall winner of the championship, category champions and race winners. Only TR 86 cars built in Auckland by Toyota are eligible to race in the series.
The TR 86 specification includes an FIA-approved multi-point competition roll cage, adjustable competition suspension, racing brake rotors and calipers and 18-inch Speedline alloy wheels. The cockpit features competition seats, racing harnesses and steering wheel, with data provided to the driver by a Motec colour screen digital dash.
The TR 86 competitors have three races over the course of the weekend, with practice and qualifying on Friday, a pair of ten-lap races on Saturday morning and afternoon and a final 15-lap race on Sunday.