THE thought of racing one of Australia’s best selling sports coupes just got better, with Toyota announcing a generous prize pool of $125,000 for the first year of its grassroots Toyota 86 Racing Series.
The series, to be run at selected V8 Supercars events from 2016, will provide $50,000 cash for the series winner plus a $20,000 international VIP experience. Second place in the 2016 series will attract $30,000 cash while the third place-getter will receive $15,000.
An additional driver who finishes outside the top three and is judged a “rising star” will win an entry to a round of New Zealand’s Toyota Finance 86 championship, including flights and accommodation.
The Australian series is expected to start in May with other rounds scheduled for Sydney Motor Sport Park (August), Sandown (September), Bathurst (October) and Sydney Olympic Park (November).
Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the Toyota 86 Racing Series is an affordable, grassroots category designed to discover new motorsport talent.
Mr Cramb said the stellar careers of people like five-time Australian Touring Car champion and six-time Bathurst winner Mark Skaife and two-time Bathurst winner Tony Longhurst had begun with success in a one-make series.
“The Toyota 86 Racing Series is a great way for young amateur drivers to advance their careers, competing against and learning from professional drivers – all under the gaze of motorsport decision-makers and team owners,” Mr Cramb said.
“Drivers will also perform in front of substantial race-day crowds and large TV and internet broadcast audiences, which should assist them in gaining sponsors. The Toyota 86 Racing Series is the most cost-effective road to competing in Australia’s premier motorsport weekend at Bathurst in October.”
The front-engine, rear-drive 86 is ideally suited to close racing due to its superb handling and expected maximum speeds down Conrod Straight of about 230km/h.
“An entry fee of just $1,500 per round is easily the lowest amount for any mainstream national series, which reflects our desire to ensure the Toyota 86 Racing Series is affordable for anyone with the passion and talent to compete.”
The grid at each round will accommodate a maximum of 32 cars, including up to five cars driven by professional drivers or other guests nominated by Toyota. The nominated drivers will not be eligible for points or prize money.
Competition will generally include three 20-minute races – one on the Saturday and two on the Sunday with grids determined by two practice sessions and a qualifying stage.
Draft sporting and technical regulations for the series have been issued by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS). They provide details of control specifications including engine ECU, tyres, exhaust, brakes, suspension, roll cage and aero kit.
Neal Bates Motorsport developed the control specifications with a focus on safety and reliability while keeping costs as low as possible. Category management is by AirTime Autosport, run by motorsport identity Neil Crompton.