Masters racer John Penny is going all out in the tenth anniversary Toyota 86 Championship to better an already impressive campaign last season.
‘JP’ who at 54 is comfortably the oldest racer in the highly competitive pack, chalked up two outright wins last season, one of which was arguably the most impressive victory of the season as he hunted down Dion Pitt to claim victory at Hampton Downs in the dying moments of the race.
But moments of glory like that aren’t enough for Penny, who wants much more in 2023.
Penny has bought the ex-Hugo Allen TR86 that was the round winner at the Taupo event last season. As well as that change, he’s also been putting significantly more time into improving his own driving skills with the addition of driver coaching by the experienced Tom Alexander, himself a former champion in the Toyota 86 category.
“Honestly I can’t get enough of this category it’s so tight and competitive. My old car was getting quite tired so I’ve made a couple of big steps for this with a new car and some driver training with Tom,” said Penny at the recent TR86 test day at Hampton Downs.
“This is my fourth season in Toyota 86 over the past few years and I really feel that if I can just improve on my qualifying performance then my race pace will be strong and my overall results will be where I want them to be.”
Both of John’s wins last season came from reverse top ten grid races. His race pace was good enough to win those battles and at the recent non-championship Pukekohe Supercars round was also in evidence again as he turned a poor qualifying performance into a strong result with some blistering race pace and high quality overtaking.
“Hopefully I’m going to be able to go out and be on the qualifying pace straight away and then use the race pace to be at the front all of the time.
“Everyone knows a championship campaign in Toyota 86 relies on strong results in every race not just the reverse grid ones so that’s what I am aiming to change. I never think about my age, just what I have to do to win more races.”
John’s Penny Homes business will again be front and centre on the striking newly-liveried 86 when he heads onto track for the start of the first round in January at Highlands Motorsport Park.
2023 Toyota 86 Championship Schedule:
|1||Highlands Motorsport Park||January 13 – 15|
|2||Teretonga Park Raceway||January 20 – 22|
|3||Hampton Downs International Motorsport Park||February 3 – 5|
|4||Taupo International Motorsport Park||March 17 – 19|
|5||Manfield Circuit Chris Amon||April 14 – 16|
|6||Hampton Downs International Motorsport Park||May 5 – 7|
Main image: Bruce Jenkins | Words: Supplied