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Toyota 86 Racers Back In Action With Major Hampton Downs Test

Some of the country’s top young drivers finally dusted off the Covid cobwebs at Hampton Downs over the weekend when the Toyota 86 Championship got into gear for 2022 with its official annual test for all competitors.

A fine line up of talent got this year’s Toyota 86 Championship underway with the annual test at Hampton Downs. Picture Bruce Jenkins

A total of 22 cars will take the start at the first round of the season when the championship gets underway at Highlands Motorsport Park next month. The vast majority took the opportunity to sign up for the test.

It’s the biggest field in the history of the championship and is also the highest quality. Reigning champion Rowan Shepherd is back for a title defence as is runner up from last season Simon Evans.

The best of last season’s young guns – Ronan Murphy, Brock Gilchrist, Todd Foster and Marco Giltrap – are back for more and they are joined by a long list of additional up and coming talent.

Hugo Allan, Matthew McCutcheon, Rianna O’Meara-Hunt, Chelsea Herbert, Zac Stichbury, Clay and brother Fynn Osbourne all join the series full time with impressive racing CVs. John Penny, Mark Mallard and Christina Orr-West fly the flag for the more mature racers, while Todd Prujean, William Morton, Dion Pitt, and Sam Cotterill will all be eyeing up rookie honours.

Changeable weather conditions greeted all of the racers on the first day of testing since Auckland travel restrictions were lifted but despite that all drivers were able to clock up significant testing mileage.

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“It’s just great to be back in the groove and back in the race car again and I think we all feel as excited as each other about that,” said Dayle ITM Racing’s Ronan Murphy, who ended the test second quickest behind Hugo Allan.

“There was always anticipation about this championship having so many good drivers in it and an awesome prize pool but I think actually being here and getting started again after the problems of the lockdowns is appreciated by everyone even more. There’s a real buzz in the air.”

The drivers also had the opportunity to do simulated qualifying and race runs and practice starts over the weekend as they prepared for the first round in Cromwell on January 14-16. After Highlands the championship moves to Christchurch for the Ruapuna weekend, January 21-23.

Three weekends later it’s back to Hampton Downs on February 11-13 for the New Zealand Grand Prix meeting. Pukekohe now shifts from its early December date to March 4-6 to become Round 4 before the category heads to the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo on March 25-27. The season concludes at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park over the weekend of April 22-24.

Testing times

Pos NoDriverBestTestDifference
123Hugo Allan 1m16.351Test 10
291Ronan Murphy1m16.652Test 10.301
310Brock Gilchrist1m16.895Test 10.544
45Dion Pitt1m16.939Test 50.588
596Matthew McCutcheon1m17.137Test 50.786
615Clay Osborne1m17.143Test 20.792
78Mark Mallard1m17.178Test 50.827
872Zac Stichbury1m17.194Test 50.843
9222Todd Foster1m17.265Test 50.914
101Rowan Shepherd1m17.366Test 21.015
1155Christina Orr-West1m17.401Test 21.051
1252Rianna O'Meara-Hunt1m17.420Test 51.069
1314Fynn Osborne1m17.534Test 61.183
1425Chelsea Herbert1m17583Test 51.232
1574Todd Prujean1m17.623Test 11.272
1622John Penny1m17.665Test 11.314
1711William Morton1m18.418Test 52.067

Toyota 86 Championship 2021 – 2022

Round 1 – Highlands Motorsport Park – January 14-16

Round 2 – Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Ruapuna – January 21- 23

Round 3 – Hampton Downs Motorsport Park – February 11-13

Round 4 – Pukekohe Park Raceway – March 4-6

Round 5 – Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo – March 25-27

Round 6 – Hampton Downs Motorsport Park – April 22-24

© Scoop Media

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