Marco Giltrap is incredibly happy with how his rookie Toyota 86 season unfolded.
Giltrap had only started two races in tin-tops before stepping into the Toyota 86 championship, which this season proved to be one of the most competitive in series’ history.
The 17-year-old scored nine top-fives over the season, ending the year sixth in the championship standings.
At the end-of-year prize ceremony, Giltrap was presented with the rookie of the year award.
He says his debut campaign exceeded expectations and hopes it marks the beginning of a title-winning season next year.
“I’m stoked with how the season went,” Giltrap told Velocity News. “We managed to maintain a strong pace from start to finish.
“We just missed out on finishing fifth in the standings. I think we just lost it to Ronan Murphy in the final round.
“But this year has been the most enjoyable season of racing for me. The professionalism and team aspect of the series is nothing like I experienced before in karting.
“So, yeah, a really good season.”
With little race car experience before his first round, Giltrap says he spent most of the first half of the season bettering his racecraft.
But after equalling his career-best result and scoring a number of top-fives over the final two rounds, Giltrap believes he is now more confident in his ability to race against others.
“I felt like I improved my racecraft the most throughout the year. I am now more confident in racing and passing, and making my way up the field.
“In the first reverse grid race, I went backwards. But in the final two rounds, I have moved forward in the reverse grid race.
“The second-to-last round at Pukekohe we almost got a podium, which was a massive improvement from the start of the year.”
Giltrap had experienced touring car driver Simon Evans as his teammate for the year.
Evans finished the year runners-up in the championship after taking the title fight to the final race.
The high-level expertise Evans brought to the table is something Giltrap says was a massive factor in his improvement during the season.
“Simon has been awesome to work with,” Giltrap said.
“He teaches me everything, from going over data to how to go about racing on the track.
“In practice I often slipped behind him and would just follow his lines and see what he does so I can see what I can do better.”
Giltrap says the plan is to return to the Toyota 86 series for a second season, with his eyes firmly locked on the championship trophy.
“I’m planning on having another crack; that would be the aim.
“Now that I have already spent a season in the 86, the goal would be to win the championship, which I think I can do.”