TOYOTA GAZOO RACING AUSTRALIA 86 SERIES KICKS OFF FOR 2023 WITH MORE TEAMS, MORE CARS AND MORE RACES
April 13, 2023
The 2023 season of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Australia (TGRA) 86 Series kicks off this weekend (14-16 April) with the first of the new Scholarship Series races lining up on the grid at Sydney Motorsport Park (SMP) as part of the NSW State Championships.
As the one-make Toyota 86 race series enters its eighth year as a support category for the Supercars Championship, Toyota Australia has introduced a new second-tier entry-level Scholarship Series after receiving overwhelming interest from teams wishing to race in what has become Australia’s premier grassroots circuit racing category.
As well as providing opportunities for more Toyota 86 racing action, the first three rounds of the Scholarship Series will form pre-qualifying events for any new drivers, or returning drivers who finished outside the top 20 in the 2022 TGRA 86 Series, who wish to race in the main game.
Drivers who finished inside the top 20 in the 2022 season who wish to return do not need to pre-qualify for the main TGRA 86 Series that kicks off as part of the NTI Townsville 500 Supercars Championship event in July.
Toyota Australia Chief Marketing Officer Vin Naidoo said 2023 was set to be a watershed for Toyota’s local motorsport activities with more Toyota 86 racing than ever before, offering more young aspiring professional race drivers the opportunity to hone their skills in an exciting and affordable race series.
“When we started the TGRA 86 Series back in 2016, our vision was to provide a series that offered the opportunity for young up and coming drivers to hone their race craft, alongside some of the best in the business,’ Mr Naidoo said.
“It was designed as a professional, safe, one-make series that placed an emphasis on helping aspiring professional drivers develop their skills, alongside professional drivers and mentors, as well as providing an affordable series for passionate weekend warriors who just want to race for the thrill of it.
“I would say that over the past seven years, we have well and truly achieved those aims with no fewer than four 86 alumni racing for top tier Supercars teams this year and several racing in the second tier Super 2 championship.
“Now, with the introduction of the Scholarship Series, there are even more opportunities for drivers and teams to get involved and provide fans with an abundance of thrilling wheel-to-wheel racing action,” he said.
Former Toyota 86 drivers racing in Supercars this year include Broc Feeney, Will Brown, Cameron Hill and Declan Fraser while Zach Bates, Cameron Crick, Jaylyn Robotham, Zane Morse, Ryan Wood, and Kai Allen, who all cut their racing teeth in the TGRA 86 Series, will be lining up in Super 2.
The integrity of the TGRA 86 Series as the perfect learning environment has also been widely acknowledged by Supercars teams with the Walkinshaw Andretti United & Grove Racing Supercars teams entering drivers in the 86 series this year as part of their internal junior development programs.
While the first three Scholarship Series rounds in NSW and Victoria will form pre-qualifying events, those drivers that don’t make the cut into the main TGRA 86 series will have two further opportunities to race with Scholarship Series events later in the year in Queensland and NSW.
After the final round in September, five drivers from the Scholarship Series will be selected for an “evaluation day” where they will battle it out to win a fully funded drive in the TGRA 86 Series event at Bathurst.
Following the season opener in Townsville, those drivers and teams that do qualify for the main TGRA 86 Series, will race as part of the Beaurepaires Sydney Supernight, the OTR SuperSprint at The Bend, and the Penrite Oil Sandown 500 Supercars events before culminating in a thrilling season closer at the iconic Mount Panorama circuit at Bathurst in October.
Toyota has committed to supporting the TGRA 86 Series through to the end of 2026 and 2024 will the see the debut of the new more powerful and more agile GR86 race car in the main series.
The car has been developed by Neal Bates Motorsport (NBM) and will be sold as a turnkey package for $89,990 to prospective entrants in the 2024 TGRA 86 Series.
NBM has already started building customer GR86 race cars and today, handed over the first of those to the 2022 TGRA 86 Series Kaizen Award winner Jarrod Hughes.
The 17-year-old from Brisbane won the award for continuous improvement over the course of the 2022 season and received an all-expenses paid trip to the NASCAR Daytona 500 in the US where he met some of the Toyota drivers and toured the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing production facility.
2023 TGRA SCHOLARSHIP SERIES CALENDAR
|14-16 April||NSW State Championships*||Sydney Motorsport Park|
|26-28 May||Victorian State Championships*||Phillip Island, VIC|
|16-18 June||Motorsport Australia Trophy Series*||Sydney Motorsport Park|
|4-6 August||Motorsport Australia Trophy Series||Queensland Raceway|
|1-3 September||2023 Master Blast||Sydney Motorsport Park|
|21 September||Scholarship Series Evaluation Day||Sydney Motorsport Park|
*Pre-qualifying events for new entrants and returning drivers that finished outside the top 20 in TGRA 86 Series in 2022
2023 TGRA 86 SERIES CALENDAR
|13 April||TGRA 86 Series Season Launch||Sydney Motorsport Park|
|7-9 July||NTI Townsville 500||Townsville, QLD|
|28-30 July||Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight||Sydney Motorsport Park|
|18-20 August||OTR SuperSprint||Tailem Bend, SA|
|15-17 September||Penrite Oil Sandown 500||Sandown, VIC|
|5-8 October||Repco Bathurst 1000||Bathurst, NSW|