Herbert back on track with THoR for 2021-2022
Top female racer Chelsea Herbert is the latest big NZ racing name to be confirmed for this coming season's Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship.
The 22 year old’s seat in the series marks her return to racing after a crash at Teretonga left her with a broken back in 2020. With lots of rehabilitation and will power, Chelsea finally returns to driving this season.
“I'm really excited to be racing again, I am fully recovered and more than ready to get back behind the wheel,” she said. “It's been two years since I've been in a tin top so I'm looking forward to honing in on my experience and skills. I haven't run an H pattern gearbox since I was in Class 2 V8s back in 2017, so that will be an area where I will need to blow out the cobwebs and focus.
Chelsea will be one of the three-car Heart of Racing entry that will be run by International Motorsport when this year's championship gets underway later in the year. It will also be the first time she has raced in a saloon car since she competed in Class 1 of the national V8 touring car championship in 2018-19 and she's looking forward to the challenge.
“I've tested the car now and even though it doesn't have the outright pace of other cars I have driven in recent years, I came in smiling from ear to ear. It was really fun to drive. It feels very light compared to the TLX V8 and the FT-60 so it will be good fun learning how to balance the car right on the edge. I think the most important part of driving the 86 will be keeping the momentum up, due to the lower power.”
Herbert has taken her racing seriously and prepares to a meticulous standard off track, and her TR86 campaign will be no different, despite it being more than 18 months since she last raced in anything.
“My TRS campaign was set to be the most challenging series I would have competed in so far and I was really looking forward to it,” she added. “It was unfortunate to have such an abrupt end to my championship, but I’m super grateful to be lining up on the grid this season in the Toyota 86 series. I will tackle this championship like I have any other, from go karts through to TRS. I will focus hard on improving my speed and lap times in testing and then race hard from there. It’s going to be super-competitive but I am aiming to be at the sharp end as quickly as possible.”
Joining the Heart of Racing supported team - which raises significant funds for Starship Hospital - has a special significance for Herbert.
“I am really proud to be a part of The Heart of Racing. Being a Starship kid myself, competing for their cause is very important for me. Having the opportunity to make a difference on and off the track this season is something very special. I feel lucky to be involved in this opportunity for young kiwis like me, and racing with International Motorsport is a dream. I am feeling very grateful to be in such capable hands heading into this season.”
The 2021-2022 Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship begins at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park over the weekend of November 12-14 before a short trip to Pukekohe Park three weeks later over the weekend of December 3-5.
After the Christmas break the teams and drivers will head south to Cromwell for the Highlands weekend on January 14-16 and then move to Christchurch for the Ruapuna weekend on January 21-23. Three weekends later it’s back to Hampton Downs on February 11-13 for the New Zealand Grand Prix meeting before the season finale at the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo on March 25-27.