Wednesday, Sep 12 05:30pm
AUTHOR: Toyota Racing New Zealand

Dark Horse Racing duo take step up to Toyota 86

Top racing duo Andrew Jackson and Leo Bult have this week confirmed they will step up to the next level this season.


The pair have announced they will share a full campaign in the forthcoming Toyota 86 Championship aboard the ex-Speed Works car last driven by Jaden Ransley.


The new team will run under the banner of Darkhorse Racing and the two drivers will race three rounds each.


Jackson will race the car at the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship event that opens the season at Pukekohe Park.


He’ll also drive the last two rounds of the championship at the New Zealand Grand Prix meeting at Manfeild in February and the season finale at Hampton Downs in March.


Meanwhile, Bult will be in the hot seat for the December Pukekohe Park short course round, then will race both of the South Island events at Highlands Motorsport Park and Teretonga Park. The two will share duties at the non-championship endurance round at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupō in April.


Although the pair are new to the category, they bring a huge amount of racing experience to their campaign.


Jackson has six years circuit racing experience and Bult a further three. Both have around 15 years of karting experience at a national and international level behind them as well.


Bult also rallied for many years in the early days of his motor racing career, which included rounds of the World Rally Championship in Europe as a co-driver.


With titles, race wins and several seasons of success behind them in the national Mazda Pro7 Series, the two are looking forward to taking on the best up and coming racers in New Zealand in the Toyota 86 Championship.


As the new team name suggests, Jackson and Bult are focused on springing the odd surprise and turning a few heads in the car, which will be backed by long-time sponsor Safepak and a soon-to-be announced title sponsor.


“Luckily we have very similar driving styles and we have almost identical setups in our Mazdas,” Jackson said.

“Hopefully that means we will both feel comfortable with a similar set up in the Toyota 86 as well.


“The biggest test is going to be jumping out of one car and into another quite different machine as we are both at some point in the season running our Mazdas and the Toyota 86 at the same events.


“Our team manager John Jackson will have fun organising everything as we will have three racing cars between the two of us at most rounds.”


It's a racing season that both are looking forward to, and not without a hint of humour given that they will be the most 'senior' drivers in the highly competitive field.


“With Leo being the oldest driver in the field and myself the second oldest we've had to cut down on the red wine a fair bit and do a lot more dog walking as we look to get a bit fitter," Andrew joked.


“Seriously though, we are under no illusions. For us it's the next level. We want to experience the professional nature of a championship like this and give something new a good go.


“We're not getting any younger so why not? It's going to be a very tough season and one which we hope to use to learn a lot about the car and what we need to do to extract the best out of it and us.


“We have already had the car apart and put it back together to see what we are dealing with. John Zidich and Jeff Fuller are our two race engineers and mechanics and we will be relying on their considerable knowledge to ensure we are moving in the right direction from testing to starting the season.


“At the same time though, it's going to be a lot of fun and we are aiming to run mid-pack if we can. That's the goal for the first season and we'll go from there.”


Darkhorse Racing's championship will begin at the Supercars Championship event at Pukekohe Park in November before the series joins the Speed Works Motorsport NZ Championship for round two on Pukekohe's original 'short course' configuration.


The championship then heads south for weekends at Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell and Teretonga Park, Invercargill before heading to the New Zealand Grand Prix meeting at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, Feilding in February.


It concludes at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, North Waikato in March with a non-championship endurance racing weekend in Taupo a month later.


2018–'19 Toyota 86 Championship calendar: 


Date   Venue
2–4 November 2018   Pukekohe Park, Auckland (Long Circuit)
7–9 December 2018   Pukekohe Park, Auckland (Short Circuit
11–13 January 2019   Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell
18–20 January 2019   Teretonga Park, Invercargill
8–10 February 2019   Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, Feilding
9–10 March 2019   Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Waikato


Photo: Bruce Jenkins