Ben Stewart Wins a Drive at Bathurst in Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia 86 Series Season Finale

September 22, 2023

Eighteen-year-old Ben Stewart has won himself a drive in the final round of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Australia (TGRA) 86 Series at Bathurst on 5-8 October after winning over the judges at the TGRA Scholarship Series Evaluation Day at Sydney Motorsport Park.

Ben came out on top against three other drivers – Charlie Parker, Shayne Nowickyj and Summer Parker – that were selected for the Evaluation Day from a field of 15 eligible drivers. A total of 40 drivers contested the inaugural Scholarship Series across five events at Sydney Motorsport Park, Phillip Island and Queensland Raceway over the course of the year.

Toyota Australia Chief Marketing Officer Vin Naidoo congratulated Ben saying he had the qualities needed to continue to grow as a race driver and Toyota was proud to support him in that quest.

“We initiated the TGRA 86 Series as an affordable grassroots race series and over the past eight years it has become recognised as a real career pathway for young drivers to grow their skills and hone their racecraft in a safe controlled environment,” Mr Naidoo said.

“The introduction of the entry-level Scholarship Series this year, further expanded  that and I’d like to congratulate Ben on winning the drive in the main TGRA 86 Series season closer at Bathurst next month.

“Ben demonstrated not only the skill needed to compete with the best of our drivers but also the maturity, drive and commitment to continue to grow and learn and we wish him all the best in his racing career,” he said.

The four drivers that were selected to compete in the Evaluation Day were not those that had won the most races, but individuals that demonstrated they have what it takes to become a professional driver.

Each driver was assessed across five activities consisting of their general knowledge of the broader sporting and technical rules, media technique, fitness and conditioning, car control and on-track performance.

They were judged on each of these criterion by Walkinshaw Andretti United Supercars Team Principal Bruce Stewart, former and current Supercars drivers Steve Johnson and Warren Luff, and Australian Rally Champion Harry Bates.

In awarding Ben the drive at Bathurst, the judges praised him for his high level of performance across the various off-track activities, along with his speed and consistency in the car.

The TGRA Scholarship Series was introduced this year and run over five rounds as a second-tier entry-level Toyota 86 race series after Toyota had received overwhelming interest from teams wishing to race in what has become Australia’s premier grassroots circuit racing category.

The first three rounds of the Scholarship Series in NSW and Victoria also formed pre-qualifying events for any new drivers, or returning drivers who finished outside the top 20 in the 2022 TGRA 86 Series, who wished to race in the main series that kicked off in Townsville in July.

Toyota will again run the TGRA Scholarship Series in 2024 and has already received a high level of interest in the five-round series.