Series nears start grid

By Matt Greenop

Barrie Thomlinson. Photo / Supplied
Barrie Thomlinson. Photo / Supplied

Is the Toyota 86 ready for a starring role in its own one-make series? Those behind the single-seater Toyota Racing Series certainly think so.

The official line is that it's "exploring the possibility" of running a series, but Toyota Racing's Barrie Thomlinson sounds quietly confident.

"Obviously there are some approvals that need to be gained from Motorsport New Zealand, and a lot of work that needs to be done to get it to the point that we can announce any details," he said.

"There's been a fair amount of upheaval recently [in New Zealand motorsport] but I really think that a series like this would be a valuable thing to have on the calendar."

The TRS category has certainly worked, and boasts an ever-growing roster of talented locals, as well as being infiltrated by overseas drivers looking for quality racing opportunities in the northern hemisphere off-season.

An 86 class would be a challenger to existing one-make classes like Suzuki Swifts and Minis, but with rear-wheel drive and a tail-end that's not afraid to wag it could be even more spectacular than the doorhandle-rubbing those two classes have been known for.

Although the TR 86 is produced as a cookie-cutter race car that guarantees parity, Thomlinson says there's no requirement to race in the series.

"This particular car will be an extremely exciting package, it's a package that hasn't really been seen before in New Zealand, certainly in circuit-racing terms. Rear-wheel drive, lightweight - it's going to be a lot of fun to race whether it's in this, production or endurance, or rallying."

The cars, like the production vehicle they're based on, won't be making ground-shaking power, but will be capable of returning an effective track set-up.

"The basic specification is finalised, but as we've only just shaken the car down there are items that we have to go through. But the basics are there - a full roll cage, really nice brake system, great suspension set-up - there's just a bit of fine-tuning to be done.

"We're working through pricing as we speak."

Thomlinson believes the series will not only attract new drivers to motorsport, but will allow drivers in other categories the chance to enter into a manufacturer-backed, professional environment.

- NZ Herald

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