Auckland’s Ash Blewett will start his hundredth motor race when the Toyota Finance 86 Championship grids up at Pukekohe in November.
He returns to New Zealand’s leading single-make touring car series aiming to put his West City TR86 on the podium at each round and win the title.
The 25 year old was second in the inaugural championship, third overall in 2014-2015 and says he will accept no less than championship victory, starting with the opening at the Pukekohe V8 Supercar event November 7 and 8.
“We have excellent track data for every round of the championship, so the aim is definitely to get my hands on the trophy,” he said.
Blewett began racing karts in 2004 and switched to single-make series in 2007, moving up from BMWs to the 86 championship when it made its debut in 2013. His extensive experience in one-make racing meant he was immediately at home in the cut and thrust of the Toyota series.
“The TR86 rewards judgment, balance and finesse. The racing is very close and one small error can cost you dearly in qualifying or races,” he said.
A mechanical engineer by profession, Blewett wants to combine his passion for motorsport with a career with a top race team. In his 99 races to date he has won 23 times, stood on the podium 43 times and qualified on pole ten times.
“Cracking the ton in race starts is not something I’d thought a lot about but Pukekohe is an exciting place to start my hundredth race,” he said.
Organisers of the 2015 Toyota Finance 86 Championship say interest in the category is at record levels with a starting grid for the first round of 16 cars.
Drivers and race fans have been able to view the unique TR86 race cars at the CRC Speedshow where its first driver commitment, Reid Harker of Albany, was announced. Aspiring race drivers from all over New Zealand have taken every opportunity to test the race cars at Manfeild, Hampton Downs and Ruapuna.
Championship coordinator Geoff Short has been in charge of the pre-season test opportunities and show appearances. He says the championship stands alongside the Toyota Racing Series for its potential to help rising race drivers achieve their career goals.
“The cars are very evenly matched and the championship is affordable, with team, car ownership and lease options available,” he said.
The 2015-2016 Toyota Finance 86 Championship starts at the Pukekohe round of the Australian V8 Supercar series November 7 and 8. It shares several rounds with the Toyota Racing Series and will have its own TV coverage package with a one hour time-slot on TV3 a week after each round.