Matt Lockwood lines up a Toyota 86 championship bid


He’s trading a sledgehammer for a scalpel, and looking to make a strong impression in the 2016-2017 Toyota 86 Championship.

Western Springs’ Matt Lockwood started motor racing in the crowd-pleasing madness of HQ Holden one-make racing, raced in and won back to back titles in the New Zealand RX7 single-make series and then stepped up into V8 ute and V8 Touring Car racing. He won the V8 Ute series in 2008, was second in 2009 and won the NZ V8 Challenge Cup in 2012. Most recently, he shared the United Video V8 Supertourer with Craig Baird.

“My all-time racing idols are Craig Lowndes and Craig Baird – so it was fantastic to work with Craig and I learned a lot about racecraft from him. Now I’ll be applying that and my own experience to this new championship challenge,” he said.

Now Lockwood (28) switches from the brute force of a V8 touring car to the refined handling and driving dynamics of the TR 86 race cars. He is preparing for his first on-track test day and will lease a car for his first season in the 86 Championship. His spa pool company, Softub New Zealand, is likely to be the major sponsor of his campaign, with other supporters chipping in to ensure costs are covered.

In 2015-2016 the Toyota Finance 86 Championship smashed its entry record, with 27 drivers competing in all or some rounds. With new cars being built, existing cars being bought by new and returning championship hopefuls and strong interest in the six-round series from racers in New Zealand, Australia and even Malaysia, category manager Geoff Short is confident of full grids from the opening round at Pukekohe.

“We are very excited by the demand for cars this year, and especially from Australia. There is only one more lease car available, and we have some new-build cars coming through, but drivers will need to be quick to secure a place on the grid,” he said.

Already, more than a dozen drivers are committed; the CareVets scholarship adds a further entry and other drivers are expected to announce their campaigns in the next few weeks. Organisers recently confirmed a prize fund of $100,000 and the championship once more opens with three televised races at the New Zealand round of the V8 Supercars, held at Pukekohe over the weekend of November 4-6.

Matt Lockwood’s racing career information is at:

The 2016-2017 Toyota 86 Championship

Round 1   4 – 6 November 2016   Pukekohe Park Raceway, Pukekohe
Round 2   9 – 11 December 2016   Taupo Motorsport Park, Taupo
Round 3   13 -15 January 2017   Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Ruapuna, Christchurch
Round 4   20 - 22 January 2017   Teretonga Park, Invercargill
Round 5   10 - 12 Feb 2017   Manfeild, Feilding
Round 6   10 – 12 Mar 2017   Hampton Downs