Toyota has extended its backing of the one-make 86 Racing Series in Australia until at least the end of the 2020 season, and confirmed some big names for its guest driver roster.
The deal is a two-year extension of the initial three-year agreement that saw the series initially founded and then introduced as a new introduction-tier national category for the 2016 season.
The decision to extend the deal comes after a year of significant change for Toyota in Australia, including a HQ shift from Sydney to Melbourne and a several senior changes in the marketing department.
“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,” said Toyota’s chief marketing officer Wayne Gabriel.
“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.
“Competitors and fans can look forward to at least three more seasons of full grids, intense action, and continued development of Australia’s future motorsport talent.”
The series has also tweaked its mentorship programme, with former Bathurst 1000 winner Jason Bargwanna coming on as a permanent mentor.
Recently retired Supercars full-timer Jason Bright has joined the list of guest drivers that will race in the series, joining the likes of reigning Bathurst winner Luke Youlden, regular Supercars enduro drivers Warren Luff, Chris Pither, Jono Webb, and Steve Owen, rallying ace Harry Bates, and former Formula Ford champion Leanne Tander.
There's been a boost to the prize pool too, with a total of $150,000 now on offer. The winner will still pocket $50,000, with the rest of the money now available down to eighth place.
The calendar is a round longer than last year, with Sandown returning and The Bend added for the first time. Sydney Motorsport Park misses out on a race, with Phillip Island, Townsville, Bathurst, and Newcastle carrying over from 2017.
Entry fees have been capped at $1,500 per round for a third consecutive year.
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