It’s been a tough build up to the start of what will be the biggest ever Toyota 86 Championship, but there’s no doubt the long wait before the season finally gets underway will be worth it.
A total of twenty two cars took the start at Highlands on January 14-16 and at stake this season is the biggest ever prize package for a domestic New Zealand motorsport championship. A much sought after test with V8 Supercar icons Tripe Eight Engineering tops the $175,000 prize pool and the drivers are set to fight tooth and nail.
Testing before Christmas simply proved the championship is going to be closer than ever, with just over a second and a half covering the first 16 drivers. Heading the pack impressively was Hugo Allan who was quickly up to speed in his Heart of Racing entry. Hugo debuted at Taupo last season and showed plenty of promise, so will headed to Highlands hopeful of a strong showing.
At this early stage it’s hard to look past the top two finishers in last year’s championship, who are both back for another season of Toyota 86 racing. Champion Rowan Shepherd lined up in the Speed Works entry while Simon Evans returned in his Wet & Forget car. Shepherd was tenth fastest in testing as he got to grips with the different Toyota 86 but Evans’ form is unknown as he and Marco Giltrap elected to miss the Hampton Downs test and head to the South Island.
The championship continues up the country at the following venues:
Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Ruapuna:
Hampton Downs Motorsport Park:
Pukekohe Park Raceway: March 4-6
Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo: March 25-27
Hampton Downs Motorsport Park: April 22-24