The popular Toyota 86 Racing Series has seen its original three-year commitment extended by two years, as it grows in popularity and becomes a more established stepping stone for aspiring drivers.
Minor changes (like tyres) have been made to 2018 series cars, which held its official launch at Sydney Motorsport Park today, showcasing a larger prize pool of $150,000 (+$20,000) and a new six round, 18 race format.
The 86 race vehicles remain largely unchanged from showroom condition bar the required safety of a roll cage and other FIA sanctioned requirements for competitive racing.
Toyota chief marketing officer, Wayne Gabriel, told CarAdvice the 86 series has done wonders not just for Toyota 86 sales, but also for lifting the brand beyond its usual quality, durability and reliability sphere into the realm of ‘exciting and fun’.
“Our decision to extend the Toyota 86 Racing Series gives certainty to competitors and potential entrants who need to know that their investment in the car and racing package will enable them to compete for several years,” Gabriel said.
“In its first two years, the series has shown its ability to develop drivers and teams in a professional environment, while delivering the door-to-door action that excites motorsport fans.
"The comparatively low cost of cars and racing attract a range of drivers, from those still at school right through to businessmen wanting some fun.”
The total running cost of entering every round of the Toyota 86 racing series is roughly $100,000 for the year, including purchase price and modifications – around $25,000 – to the vehicle itself, with each round costing just $1500 in entry fees.
The prize pool for the series is $50,000 for first, $30,000 for second, $15,000 for third, $6000 for fourth, $5000 for fifth, $4000 for sixth, $3000 for seventh and now also $2000 for eighth. There is also the Kaizen award, backed by $35,000 of prize money and the opportunity to compete in New Zealand.
With the two-year extension until the end of 2020, the growing category will see five full seasons of manufacturer-supported racing, and remains one of the most affordable means of racing at iconic venues like Bathurst and Philip Island.
The season starts on April 20 at Philip Island, and ends in Newcastle on the November 23.
We suspect Toyota Australia’s insistence on renewing the series until 2020 might give an indication of when we should expect an updated or all-new 86 model.