#T86RS Stands for Toyota 86 Racing Series and I was about to experience what it is like to
be apart of the new racing series. Gone are the days of “Race on Sunday, buy on Monday.” Finally there is some
light at the end of the tunnel thanks to Toyota and the new 86 Racing Series!
Once I arrived at Sydney Motorsport Park I was greeted by a line up of cars that helped define Toyota’s motorsport history. Toyota’s commitment to bringing motor racing back to the youth is something that toyota is really passionate about, not only have they assembled the cars but they also brought some of the drivers from Toyota’s heyday along for the ride.
There were plenty of familiar faces; some from TV ( Neil Crompton, Greg Rust),
and other motorsport royalty (The Bates family, John Boston and more).
We were run through the plan for the series and exactly why Toyota was getting back into local racing.
We were soon taken to “Garage 86” where both of the cars we would be testing were laid out with their various upgraded parts on display.
Australia is the 3rd largest market for the 86 It made sense that Toyota chose Australia for the release of the 86 Racing Series!
First we were introduced to the standard 86 and then the 86 racing version. Powered by the very same 2.0lt boxer engine that is found in the standard car the racing version shares the same power plant. The 86 Racing version includes upgrades like Motec ECU, Oil cooler, headers/extractors and muffler, AP Racing brakes, OZ Racing wheels, NBM Control Spec roll cage and more. 86 Racing Series Brochure
Having never driven an 86 I was very excited to get behind the wheel of both of these cars. We were made to drive the standard car first so we could see the difference between the two.
The standard car feels very balanced with super sharp steering! In the tight corners I really tried to give it the beans but as soon as I did I heard that all too familiar traction control sound and a slight drop in power. Good thing though as Toyota didn’t want us burying their cars into the concrete walls of Sydney Motorsport Park.
After 3 laps of the South Circuit in the standard car I began to understand just why these cars are so damn popular. It’s easy to hate on hype and yes I’m guilty of labeling the car without even driving it! But after a drive I’m a changed man! It’s such a responsive car with a good amount of power and road feedback.
My confidence grew as I figured out the braking points and what speed to take the corners. Our driving instructors were great; they really helped us to get more out of the cars than we initially thought was possible.
Toyota is really investing within this series. Up to 5 selected professional drivers nominated by Toyota will mentor and compete against a potential field of 27 amateur drivers who will qualify to get onto the starting grid. The nominated drivers will not be eligible for prize money but this will add to the growth of the series. Some of the races will even be held with rounds of the V8 Supercars.
Our old mate Justin Fox wasn’t playing around! He had his Stig helmet on and he really put this car through its paces! While waiting for my turn in the racing version of the 86 it was interesting to see the other drivers approach to the same corner in front of the pits. Some would really go wide and ring out 3rd, others would change to 4th early. I tried both but ringing out 3rd felt best up the hill.
It was time to get into the 86 Racing version! All I could think was please don’t stall! But luckily the clutch wasn’t a 100kg leg press and it felt almost identical to the standard clutch.
As soon as I got onto the track I put my foot down and straight away I could feel a difference! It felt a lot stiffer, quicker off the line, and the seating position was much lower.
Now I had learnt the track I was getting a little overconfident. So confident that my instructor was hitting my hand when I would try for an early gear change.
After our 3 laps in the racing version of the 86 we were then able to go for a hot lap with the professional drivers!
I was paired up with the talented Leanne Tander. Once I was strapped into the passenger side it was go time! All three cars left the pits at the same time.
While in the car I could feel the Dunlop Direzzas gripping and throwing us through the corners more than I had felt when I was driving the car. The pro drivers where really on another level! The comparison between driving yourself and a pro driving the same track is a real eye opener.
Neal Bates took everything to the next level by passing both 86s then proceeded to drift in front of us while we struggled to keep pace. The Dunlop tyres are such a great mix of grip and slip and they will definitely make the racing action fun to watch.
The Toyota 86 Racing Series will demand the competitors to adhere to a strict car setup meaning that driver talent, rather than team budget, will be the key to winning.
The 2016 86 Racing Series will be visiting lots of tracks all around Australia including:
Winton SuperSprint 20-22 May
Sydney Motorsport Park 26-28 August
Wilson Security Sandown 500 16- 18 September
Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 6 – 9 October
Coates Hire Sydney 500 25-27 Nov
Tetsuya Tada’s dream is about to become true! The 86 Racing Series looks like it is just the right thing to reinvigorate the public’s passion in motorsport and Toyota.
We cannot wait to see this series take off!
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Thanks for reading,