After becoming a regular frontrunner in the Toyota 86 Championship, Reid Harker stepped up to compete in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series for the 2018 season — making his debut in the series at yesterday's opening race of the season.
Having qualified an impressive seventh, Harker went on to finish in eighth place after a long tussle with French driver Charles Milesi.
"That was our first real dry session of the weekend, so there's still plenty to learn. I'm still a bit off the top guys, but I'm learning every session we go out," said Harker.
"I made a bit of a gain at the start, and then dropped back a couple of starts. But all in all, a good start and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
While most drivers on the 2018 grid, including the international rookies, enter the season with 'wings and slicks' experience elsewhere, Harker and fellow Kiwi debutant and 86 championship graduate Ryan Yardley don't, which makes their debut in the competitive series even more of a challenge.
"They play for keeps, so you've really got to be decisive. The space you've got to leave is a bit different, so the fundementals are a bit different.
"Time-wise we're not too far away. We found an issue with the car overnight, which was good. We've been running around with a crippled car for the last few days, so it's good that we've found that. And now we're starting again from square one with the weather.
"We'll give the car a bit of a tune up, but there's more time left in me than anything else which is kind of exciting."
Key to Harker's improvements as the five-round season progresses will be team owner Stephen Giles. Having led his Giles Motorsport team to championship victory in past years, Harker hopes his experience will put him in good steed for improvement.
"In the past we've always been a family operation, with dad working on the car. So this has been a massive step up — professional level stuff.
"It's really cool to be working with Stephen [Giles], he knows his stuff and has done it before. So we've just got to keep chipping away, and we'll get there I'm sure."