It’s the third year of the Toyota 86 Racing Series and promises to be bigger in every way with new entrants, greater rewards and more races.
Overall prize money has been increased to $150,000 for the 18-race grassroots series that features identical 2.0-litre Toyota 86 sports cars.
Series placegetter cash has been extended to eighth place while retaining the previous top-three place rewards of $50,000, $30,000 and $15,000.
The monetary value of the coveted Kaizen Award, for continuous improvement, is now $35,000. It includes a fully funded trip to compete in a round of New Zealand’s 86 racing series and a session at the Mark Larkham Training Academy.
The class of 2018 introduces 15-year-old Broc Feeney, son of top-level 1980s motorcycle racer Paul Feeney.
Returning drivers include Tim Brook, the series lap record holder at two circuits, who is building a new car for this year.
The 2018 competition has been extended to six rounds and four States adding South Australia with its new Bend Motorsport Park for the first time.
The action kicks off next month at Phillip Island and includes the Sandown enduro weekend in September and the famed Mount Panorama circuit in October, before concluding in Newcastle.
Toyota’s vice-president sales and marketing Sean Hanley said the Toyota 86 Racing Series has found and nurtured some impressive young driving talent, with six drivers in the 2017 top ten aged under 22.
“The Toyota 86 Racing Series was created as an affordable, grassroots racing series to foster new talent. Looking at the series alumni after just two years, it has already proved its worth,” he said.
“Inaugural series winner Will Brown is a perfect example, claiming back-to-back class victories in the Bathurst 12 Hour and recently winning the Peter Brock Medal for combining outstanding driving ability with a sportsman-like attitude.
“The 2017 series winner Jimmy Vernon and rival Cameron Hill, who has the most series victories to date, are both stepping up to GT-series drives in 2018.
“The Toyota 86 Racing Series offers impressive rewards and provides the opportunity for all entrants to showcase their talents on the national stage.”
Competitors in the series can benchmark themselves against experienced guest drivers at each round and seek advice from specially assigned driver mentors.
The racing versions of the Toyota 86 sports car are fitted with a roll cage and performance kit developed by Neal Bates Motorsport and ‘control’ Dunlop road tyres.
Series sponsors include Hino Motor Sales Australia as the official truck provider and Toyota Genuine Motor Oil, which all competitors must use as engine lubricant. The series is managed and organised by AirTime Autosport.
There are three races at each venue, with competitors given a set of four new tyres after qualifying.
The 2018 calendar is: Phillip Island, April 20-22; Townsville, July 6-8; Bend Motorsport Park, August 24-26; Sandown, September 14-16; Mount Panorama, October 4-7 and Newcastle, November 23-25.
A test day for confirmed entrants will be held at Sydney Motorsport Park on April 3.