The Toyota 86 Racing Series (T86RS) launched its 2017 season today with an open test and practice day at Sydney Motorsport Park.
With an exploding fan base among enthusiasts and motorsport talent-spotters, a growing grid of 86 racers will join the 2017 Supercars schedule at Phillip Island, Townsville, Sydney, Bathurst and Newcastle to vie for championship honours and a prize pool of $125,000.
With almost half a million spectators at race events and a television viewership of 1.77 million in 2016, the series has captivated race fans with close-quarter battles and frequent overtaking.
The diverse grid will feature aspiring racers of high-school age alongside racing veterans and established motorsport teams using the series as a development program, with multi-car entries.
Toyota Motor Corporation Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the series provided an attainable platform for emerging talent.
"The Toyota 86 is the perfect platform to help develop driving and engineering skills," Mr Cramb said. "It is a professionally run competition with the hallmarks and demands of a marquee category.
"The series maintains the lowest entry fee for any national motorsport competition. The specification of the cars is designed to develop drivers and teams in a professional environment, while delivering the speed and door-to-door action viewers demand.
"The cost of cars and racing are comparatively low and attract a range of drivers, from those still at school with a national series in their sights to experienced businessmen and even a surgeon out there to have fun on the grid."
The T86RS sees a contingent of invited professional drivers mentor competitors at each round.
Pro drivers give advice on race-craft and driving techniques while also sharing their experience on engineering and team management.
"The category is designed to help aspiring racers step up to the next level of competition, something it has already done. Toyota looks forward to another season of intense action, and unearthing more of tomorrow's motorsport talent," Mr Cramb 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 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 2017 the Toyota 86 Racing Series will run over five events: Phillip Island SuperSprint (April 21-23), Townsville 400 (July 7-9), Sydney SuperSprint (August 18-20), Bathurst 1000 (October 5-8) and Newcastle 500 (November 24-26).
For regular updates and more information go to https://toyota.com.au/86/racing-series.
In 2017, Toyota marks the 60th anniversary of its first international motorsport entry (and the first by a Japanese car manufacturer), when it contested the 1957 Round Australia Trial. This is why many people consider Australia to be the birthplace of Toyota motorsport. Today, Toyota contests the FIA-sanctioned World Rally Championship (WRC), World Endurance Championship (WEC) which features the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the gruelling Dakar Rally. Closer to home, the Toyota 86 Racing Series seeks to develop the talent of tomorrow as Australia's premier grassroots circuit-racing category.