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Toyota drivers use endurance racing to hone championship skills

 

New Zealand race drivers are using their TR 86 sports coupes to hone their skills in winter motor racing – no matter how foul the weather – and setting their goals for the coming summer race season.

Reid Harker and Tom Stokes contested the 2015-2016 Toyota Finance 86 Championship, and both plan to grid up for the 2016-2017 series starting in November with the V8 Supercar event at Pukekohe.

In the meantime, they are gathering valuable ‘seat time’ and sharpening their race skills in the North Island Endurance Series where their TR 86 race cars are proving more than competitive.

Reid Harker won his class and finished sixth overall in teeming rain at the latest one hour race, held at Hampton Downs circuit in the north Waikato on June 25. Tom Stokes had run as high as tenth overall but went off close to the end of the three hour race. Harker said the enduro required different pacing and a different race strategy.

“Driving an enduro is different from the intensity of racing in the championship, but the seat time – and the chance to run extensively on the good soft wet tyres - is invaluable. Hampton Downs in the wet was awesome.

“The TR 86 has the balance and brakes to match the bigger cars in the corners and we were able to stay on the lead lap for most of the race,” he said.

Though both say the race time is more important that the results, Harker enjoyed a series of close battles with more powerful open class race cars at Hampton Downs and was close to a top five finish when the race ended. While at the Taupo opening round he was side-lined in while leading his class when he picked up a late race puncture. Consistent performance has him second in class for the series.

“We’ve only had a limited time with the TR 86, some of the guys we were up against in 2015-2016 had more experience, so it’s important to use the off-season well as we get ready for the championship. I’m really enjoying the racing and looking forward to November,” he said.

Harker has now confirmed he will contest the 2016-2017 TR 86 Championship and is finalising sponsors to support his long-time backer Washworld. The team will also attend the coming CRC Speedshow July 16-17.


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