A bumper field of 35 entrants, including Aaron Seton and Ben Grice, have been confirmed for the first of five rounds of the one-make Toyota 86 Racing Series, far exceeding Toyota Australia’s expectations and proving their faith in creating a grass roots racing series.
Kicking off at this month’s V8 Supercars Winton SuperSprint (May 20-22), the series will feature entrants ranging from aspiring racers still in high school, to established motorsport operations running multiple cars looking to use the series as a stepping stone in their driver development programs.
Eight competitors are 18 or under, with a span of four decades separating the youngest gun from the most seasoned campaigner. New South Wales heads the list with 16 entrants, followed by Queensland (eight), Victoria (six), South Australia (two), Tasmania (two), and the ACT (one).
Underpinned by a straightforward and relatively affordable technical spec, the Toyota 86 Racing Series provides the perfect platform for budding competitors to develop their skills and gain exposure in the hope of progressing up the motorsport ladder, to V8 Supercars or an international career.
A prize pool of $125,000 gives up-and-coming drivers a shot at snaring a career-boosting budget, and an entry fee of $1,500 per round (including Bathurst), is the lowest for any mainstream national series; surely the most cost-effective way to impress many thousands of spectators and a huge TV audience, not to mention V8 Supercar team bosses.
To assist entrants on and off track Toyota is also adding selected professional racers to the starting line-up, with different drivers brought in throughout the season. For Winton, the field will be boosted with the addition of V8 Supercars Hall of Fame inductee Glenn Seton, seasoned V8 Supercar ace Steven Johnson, and versatile and highly credentialed racer Leanne Tander.
The nominated ‘pro drivers’ are not eligible for prizemoney; their primary role is to mentor regular competitors by sharing tips on everything from race-craft and driving technique to engineering set-up and team structure.
The series is managed by AirTime Autosport under the leadership of prominent motorsport identity Neil Crompton, and commercial support has been building steadily in the lead-up to the opening event.
Commercial vehicle heavyweight Hino Motor Sales Australia has signed a multi-year partnership as Official Truck Provider, with a Hino 700 Series prime-mover on hand to help transport category support equipment and pro cars to race rounds.
Toyota Genuine Motor Oil (TGMO), one of Australia’s largest and most successful genuine oil programs, has also confirmed its support of the Toyota 86 Racing Series in 2016.