TOYOTA 86 RACING SERIES Australia
The new Toyota 86 Racing Series is off to a flying start, with a full grid of 38 revved up racers mixing speed and ultra-close dicing on debut at the Winton SuperSprint (May 20-22).
Evenly matched on horsepower, aerodynamics and grip, the Toyota 86 racing cars delivered close contests throughout the field, with occasional paint-swapping adding extra excitement and reflecting the drivers' huge hunger for success.
Teenage kart and open-wheel ace Cameron Hill from Oxley in the ACT showcased his skills to qualify in pole position before standing on the top step of the podium in each of three races run over the weekend.
Others to make their mark in Winton included Sydneysider Tim Brook, scoring three second places and setting the category lap record, to sit just 24 points behind Hill, who heads the series table with a maximum 300 points.
Pro drivers Glenn Seton, Steven Johnson and Leanne Tander also joined the field to mix up the competition and mentor younger drivers.
Seton and Johnson's contact with their amateur proteges was closer than expected, with each turned around after rubbing panels with others in the pack, while Leanne Tander moved cleanly up the results sheets to finish eighth in the last two races.
Race winner Hill, supported by Illawarra Toyota and Hino, was surprised by his 'three-peat' victory and understandably pleased with the result.
"Like everyone else, we didn't know how we'd stack up until we arrived here in Winton, and it's been a dream run," Cameron said.
"It's a relief after all the hard work everyone involved has put in. If I can fine-tune my starts a little better, we should be in good shape for the next round," he said.
Toyota executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb says the series has been a big hit, with positive feedback on social media focusing on the tight contests and quality of the broadcast coverage on Fox Sports.
"We couldn't have asked for a better start. Once formed up, the Winton grid trailed back from the start/finish line all the way to the end of the straight," Mr Cramb said.
"All the competitors put in a great performance, and to have a young driver progressing from junior categories coming out as the winner sits perfectly with our aim for the series of unearthing and fostering emerging race talent," he said.
The Toyota 86 Racing Series
The Toyota 86 Racing Series is designed to provide an entry point and training ground for up-and-coming drivers, offering a confirmed prize pool of $125,000.
Open to all manual variants of Toyota's cult-classic sports car*, the series is part of the support program at selected rounds of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
In 2016 the Toyota 86 Racing Series will run over five events: May 20-22 (Winton SuperSprint), August 26-28 (Sydney Motorsport Park SuperSprint), September 16-18 (Sandown 500), October 6-9 (Bathurst 1000) and December 2-4 (Sydney 500).
Here is a video from the race:
For regular updates and more information go to toyota.com.au/86/racing-series.