Fifteen drivers have been confirmed to be on the grid for the opening round of the 2021 Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship this weekend.
The first of five rounds this season, the 2021 field boasts a mix of veteran national champions and old hands, all the way to complete series rookies. Like the Toyota Racing Series, this year’s grid is also composed entirely of Kiwi drivers.
Three-time national touring car champion Simon Evans will be eager to add another series title to his impressive CV. After a handful of outings in the Toyota 86 Endurance Championship, Evans will be a benchmark competitor for the younger drivers to measure themselves against.
Experienced racers Alexandra Whitley, Christina Orr-West and Mark Mallard will be in action for the opening round at Hampton Downs.
Whitley is a former V8 Ute winner, while Orr-West and Mallard and proven front-runners of the SsangYong Ute Series. Their experience will come in handy among a competitive field.
At 28-years-old Rowan Shepherd is not much of a rookie as he is a seasoned touring car driver. He boasts an array of experience ranging from International TCR pursuits to outings in the North and South Island Endurance Championship circuits.
Brock Gilchrist is back for his fourth season in the championship and is eyeing a maiden win. At the same time, Ryan Wood returns for a sophomore campaign, as does Tayler Bryant.
Marco Giltrap and Ronan Murphy are stepping up to run their first full Toyota 86 championship season. Both were impressive in the mini endurance series.
Justin Allen and his family-backed team return for another hit-out, and his experience could be the key to upsetting the field.
Looking to leap forward this season will be Todd Foster in his second gig with International Motorsport. An up-and-down rookie season saw Foster finish 16th; a position he will be gunning to improve.
The first of the five-round championship will be at Hampton Downs this weekend, with the series on the support bill for the New Zealand Grand Prix.
2021 Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship 2021 entry list:
- 3 John Penny – John Penny Homes
- 4 Simon Evans – Giltrap Racing
- 6 Alexandra Whitley – Tony Richards Toyota
- 8 Mark Mallard – Creme Insurance
- 18 Brock Gilchrist – CareVets
- 34 Rowan Shepherd – Rowan Shepherd Racing
- 40 Ryan Wood – Ryan Wood Motorsport
- 53 Brian Scott – Giltrap Racing
- 55 Christina Orr-West – Dayle ITM Racing
- 71 Tony Austin – Genweld NZ Ltd
- 75 Tayler Bryant – MTF Finance
Main Image: Bruce Jenkins