From ovals to circuits – Hodson aiming to impress

Ayrton (940 x 450)

Up and Coming Sprint car ace Ayrton Hodson will be adding circuit racing to a busy schedule of short oval racing in 2023 when he takes on the best up and coming racers in New Zealand with his debut season in the Toyota 86 Championship.

Katikati-based Ayrton is a big name in oval racing, particularly at his home track at Bay Park and has raced successfully in Ministock and the Six Shooter categories before moving to the ferocious Sprint Cars. The Toyota 86 Championship, however, brings him into the circuit racing arena as well.

"Yep it's certainly something new but I’ve had my eye on it for a while and it appeals because of how competitive it is," he explained as he got to grips with his Action Motorsport run TR86 during the recent Hampton Downs test days. “We’re under no illusions as to how tough this will be with most of the competitors having run Karts or other forms of circuit racing already.”

Ayrton certainly likes to mix it up on the sporting front and if ovals and race tracks weren't enough, earlier this year Ayrton was selected to join the 20-strong national ultimate frisbee team who travelled to Poland for the World Youth Ultimate Championships.

"Of course the Toyota 86 is a complete contrast to the oval cars I have driven and particularly the Sprint Cars. Those cars have absolutely loads of power (800bhp+) and limited grip but the Toyota has limited power and absolutely heaps of grip. That's a new process for me and I'm really enjoying learning it.

"The Sprint Car is almost instinctive in terms of lines but there's definitely a fast way and a slow way around the circuit in the 86. The engineering side is also very different because of course we cannot really get any track data out of the sprint car and an in-car camera is as far as you can go when it comes to collecting any information.

"Everyone has been really helpful getting me up to speed on that side of things and it's exciting knowing exactly where you can be quicker in the 86 and whether you have the right braking points, throttle level and things like that. It’s really interesting for me and I can’t wait for the season to get underway.

“I'm really aiming to get up to speed as quickly as possible, aim for the occasional good result and have one eye on being the top Rookie but that’s a long way down the road.

Ayrton will take backers from his Sprint Car into his Toyota 86 season as well, including the family-run Eye Spy Security, Liqui Moly, Llama Race Fuels and Hunnibell Racing Developments. With the massive schedule ahead the team are actively seeking new sponsors to assist Ayrton in achieving his goals.

Hodson and the rest of the Toyota Championship competitors will begin their season in just a few weeks time when Round One gets underway at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell over the weekend of January 13-15 before a trip south to Teretonga Park.

With the first two back-to-back legs of the championship complete, there’s a week off before heading to Hampton Downs for the 67th New Zealand Grand Prix meeting where the championship will be the main support category to the Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship.

A mid-season break concludes in March with round four at Taupo International Motorsport Park before the penultimate round at Manfeild, Circuit Chris Amon and then the championship decider on the shorter Hampton Downs National Circuit over the first weekend of May.


2023 Toyota 86 Championship

Rd1       13-15 January 2023 - Highlands Motorsport Park

Rd2       20-22 January 2023 - Teretonga Park

Rd3       3-5 February 2023 - Hampton Downs Motorsport Park

Rd4       17-19 March 2023 - Taupo International Motorsport Park

Rd5       14-16 April 2023 – Manfeild – Circuit Chris Amon

Rd6       5-7 May 2023 – Hampton Downs Motorsport Park