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Toyota confirms 86-base race series
New Toyota 86 Pro-Am race series to kick off at V8 Supercar events next year
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27 Feb 2015
TOYOTA Australia has announced what it calls an "affordable, grassroots motorsport series" based on its top-selling 86 coupe, which will run as a support category at V8 Supercar race meetings from next year.
The company has committed to a three-year run at the series and is aiming to get drivers competing for under $100,000.
Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the series was aiming to reward the passionate 86 owners and get people competing for less than $100,000 in the first year, including the car, package, transport and entry fees.
Mr Cramb was coy about any special retail editions to capitalise on the racing model, but said the 86 series was a chance for grass-roots participation and familiarisation with the V8 Supercars organisation.
"It gives the passionate people the chance to go racing in an affordable way, and be exposed to the professionals and the business side of in the sport," he said.
"For Toyota it gives us a chance to spend time with the organisation, on the Toyota and Lexus side, but our focus is at the grassroots level.”
V8 Supercars CEO James Warburton said the Toyota 86 Pro-Am series was a welcome addition to the sport which offers its world-class racing categories the largest stage in Australasia and a significant global audience.
“This is a fantastic announcement and we congratulate Toyota for making this commitment to motorsport in Australia,” he said.
Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS) general manager of motorsport development Cameron McConville said confirmation of the Toyota 86 Pro-Am is particularly exciting as the new series is designed to appeal to grassroots motorsport enthusiasts.
“We see this decision by Toyota as a great opportunity for the development of local drivers, particularly at the grassroots level,” he said.
“The creation of the Toyota Pro-Am series with the assistance of CAMS will enable people who are driving Toyota 86 cars on the road to take the steps required to race in a national competition.”
The series is set to run as a pro-am, enlisting as many as five professional drivers to compete as well as mentor the remainder of the field, which is planned to be made up of as many as 16 amateur drivers who will need to qualify for grid positions.
The Toyota 86 Pro-Am race series will be run by Toyota Racing Australia – the 86 racecars will be based on the GT manual with control over key specifications.
Neal Bates Motorsport has developed a race package that comprises suspension, brakes, extractors and exhaust, ECU, oil cooler, rims and tyres as well as mandatory safety gear.
Since its 2012 launch, more than 13,000 Australians have bought 86 coupes, the third-highest total in the world, according to Toyota.
Toyota 86 chief engineer Tetsuya Tada said in a recorded message he was honoured to be named patron of the series, especially as the global success of the Toyota 86 owes so much to Australia.
Mr Tada said he was impressed by the passion and enthusiasm for the 86 among Australian owners.
“My dream is that one day we can have a World 86 Challenge with the best drivers from Japan, Europe and other markets – and the champion Toyota 86 driver from Australia,” he said.
Long-time Toyota race driver Neal Bates and his team at Neal Bates Motorsport (NBM) aimed to develop a durable and reliable race car that stays true to the fun-to-drive concept of 86.
The cost to participate in the Pro-Am series, including hardware and running expenses must be kept to an affordable level, according to Mr Bates.
“The Toyota 86 is such a competent car that it has just been a matter of building race-durable components into it without interfering with its character,” Mr Bates said.
“The aim is to engineer a car that is pretty much bullet-proof in racing conditions while making it a satisfying and rewarding experience for its driver,” he said.
Each 86 race car will be fitted with a locally-designed Motec Electronic Control Unit purpose-built for the car, as well as adjustable coil-over race suspension set-ups from Murray Coote, upgraded oil and engine cooling, race-spec brakes, exhaust and the obligatory roll-cage, seating and belt systems.
“The package we have produced is intended to provide the assurance of reliability under race-track conditions,” Mr Bates said.
“I’d expect the field to be very close in lap times so racing and development of race craft should be optimised.”
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