Unprecedented interest in Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship

| Photographer Credit: Bruce Jenkins

A busy week of testing activity at Hampton Downs for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing saw four more young up and coming racers try out the Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship car – and all were left impressed by the car’s abilities in the challenging track conditions.

The test followed a hugely successful Christchurch day last month and coincides with an unprecedented period of interest in the category for next year’s championship.

The latest to try out the TGRNZ cars on the wet Hampton Downs track were Zach Blincoe, Hayden Bakkerus and Leo Scott from the Hi-Q Components Formula First Championship, and they were joined by Sam Dashfield who impressively steered his way to fourth place overall in the NEXEN Mazda Series in his first full racing season.

“As was the case at Christchurch, we were very impressed by the quality of the drivers who came along and tried the car for half a day,” explained category manager Geoff Short this week. “It’s exciting times for us as we have never seen so much interest in the series. Enquiries are coming in daily and two new cars have also been sold.”

Last season Rowan Shepherd won a nail-biting three way contest for the championship on the last few corners of the last lap of the final round and Short says the highly competitive nature of the series is capturing the imagination of dozens of up and coming – and established – racers alike.

“All of the drivers know the value of being a winner in a genuinely evenly matched competition that is about ability and skill rather than who has the biggest budget. And they also see the value in being part of one of only two championships in New Zealand backed by a manufacturer.”

All of the latest drivers to test the car were experiencing manufacturer support and professional data analysis for the first time and all benefitted from driver tuition from former champion Tom Alexander. Grip in the wet, handling and particularly the effectiveness of the brakes were the stand out features for the drivers on track, and all enjoyed the professional support off it.

“Yeah the brakes on the car are excellent actually and it’s a very good all round package,” said Dashfield. “It’s really been great seeing how Toyota do it with this category and I’ve loved every minute and learned a few things too.”

TGRNZ is planning further test days at Hampton Downs to cater for demand from those dipping their toes into the water.

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