As guests of Toyota, EFTM had the privilege to attend the Eastern Creek round of The Supercars Championship. As part of the weekend we also had the chance to experience the Toyota 86 Racing Series up close and personal. We had a lot to learn.
Firstly, how does this series work? Obviously the series is purely for a Toyota 86, and the manufacturer goes to great lengths to make the series accessible but also controlled. Taking into account pricing for the mandatory package and estimated costs for the other required components, if a competitor chooses a used 86 GT (manual) as their base vehicle, a race-ready car, complete with Dunlop Extreme performance Direzza ZII rubber plus initial race entry fee, could be on the grid in 2017 for less than $70,000. For someone looking to get into motorsport as a rookie racer or just as a hobby, this is a very reasonable cost.
Visually, the car is very obviously no longer the same 86 we see on the streets, but underneath the cars actually aren’t all that different. The engine is largely untouched, a controlled Motec ECU is added however that is mostly to ensure that they aren’t tampered with. Other changes to the running gear include a race clutch, extractors and exhaust, oil cooler and upgraded brakes.
The interior is all stripped out and a roll cage added. Interestingly, even drivers have a weight requirement of 85kg. If a driver weighs less than 85 then ballast is added in the passenger seat. We really liked how serious Toyota takes the standard controls on the cars as it ensures that the racing comes down to talent and not how big your budget is on improving the car.
The series visits five circuits this year including Bathurst with multiple races across each race weekend. A podium ceremony happens after each race and points are awarded. The series winner will receive $50,000 in cash plus a $20,000 VIP experience including flights and accommodation. Second place will attract $30,000 cash and third place will receive $15,000. Last year Will Brown moved from the 86 Series and into the Dunlop V8 Series so it is very clear that an aspiring racer can make a great start here. A 16 year old in the Toyota 86 Series could see himself/herself racing in the V8 Supercar Series after a number of years, a path is very evident.
The racing when it all comes down to the grid is actually fantastic to watch. From the start to the finish the racing is extremely close and competitive. As the cars are relatively equal, the race comes down to the drivers and their on track ability. Overtaking happens often, cars come into corners three abreast often, and the top three could change multiple times throughout the short races. It’s enjoyable to see everyday racers and aspiring future stars battle it out in what we see as the most affordable series to compete in.
As if the Toyota 86 needed another excuse to maintain cool status and street cred, the Toyota 86 Racing Series is fantastic and here for at least one more year, we thoroughly recommend staying in your seats for the race if you’re at Bathurst or the Newcastle race this year.