New Zealand’s leading single make ‘tintop’ championship has attracted its strongest-ever entry going into this weekend’s opening round, promising close and spectacular racing action.
Conceived as a stepping stone to greater things, the Toyota Finance 86 Championship is an intensely competitive six round premier-level championship that attracts rising racers and some of the highest profile names in New Zealand motorsport.
Going into its third year the championship farewells 2014-2015 champion Tom Alexander and welcomes a fresh draft of talented racers expected to make the racing at each of the six rounds a close-fought battle.
A record grid of 16 cars steered by new and returning drivers will line up for the opening round at the V8 Supercar event this weekend at Pukekohe, south of Auckland. New to the championship are Aucklanders Jacob Smith, Thomas Stokes and Mike Lightfoot, Christchurch drivers Tiff Chittenden, Mathew Hamilton, Ryan Yardley and Paul Kelly and Pukekohe local Alex Sherie, who has his sights set on rookie honours. John Penny is in the Neil Allport car.
Returning racers this year include Australian-based Bruce Thomlinson, Albany racer Reid Harker, Aucklanders Ash Blewett, Callum Quin and veteran campaigner Kenny Smith, who takes over the wheel of Tom Alexander’s championship-winning car.
Fought out over six rounds on circuits from Auckland to Invercargill and back to a series finale at Taupo, the 2015-2016 championship is designed to enable drivers to gain skills and experience in modern race cars on New Zealand’s most exciting and spectacular circuits.
The TR 86 race cars used in the series are purpose-built race versions of Toyota’s acclaimed 86 sports coupe. The cars’ specification includes an FIA-approved multi-point competition roll cage, adjustable race suspension, racing brake discs and calipers and 18-inch Speedline alloy wheels with Michelin tyres. The cockpit features a Motec colour data dashboard, competition seats, racing harnesses and race steering wheel. Only TR 86 cars built by Toyota Racing New Zealand are eligible for the championship, and cars are available in managed drives, or can be purchased or leased.
Information about the championship, including live lap timing, is available on the championship website, www.toyotaracing.co.nz and racing is updated live on Facebook and Twitter. The championship has its own TV coverage with a one-hour programme on TV3 a week after each round. Coverage also screens on SKY TV.