Ronan Murphy will contest next year’s Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship as the young rising star returns to New Zealand after a season racing Formula 4 in the United States.
The 19-year-old will be in one of two Dayle ITM-backed 86s for the full five-round Sprint Series which this year boasts the most extensive prize package in New Zealand motorsport.
To kick start his 86 campaign, Murphy will enter the final round of the mini-endurance season alongside Kiwi GT ace Chris van der Drift at Pukekohe Park next month.
“I’m really looking forward to giving it a good go over summer in the 2021 Best Bars Toyota Racing 86 Championship and I can’t thank Deb and Martin Day and Dayle ITM enough for this amazing opportunity,” said Murphy.
“It will be another really good chance to learn a lot in a different type of racing compared to my previous experience and I’m really looking forward to working with Chris in the enduro.”
“We’ve followed Ronan closely through his time in Formula First and Formula Ford and more recently the US F4 series,” said team owner Deb Day.
“As we all know, it’s been a tough year for all international motorsport and travel, and we’re delighted to have secured Ronan for this endurance race and the 2021 sprint championship.
“He’s one of our best young prospects. Having Chris sharing the driving duties at Pukekohe will excite and fascinate every motorsport fan, and that’s a win for motorsport and a win for us even before the cars take to the track.
“They will bring speed, experience and much more besides. It will be a very cool weekend and a great way to kick off a new partnership with ourselves and Ronan.”
The first round of the endurance series saw only a small number of entrants, yet both one-hour races had enthralling battles for the win. It also enticed the likes of ex-NZ champions Simon Evans and Daniel Gaunt to drive alongside some of the country’s most promising up-and-coming stars.
Earlier this year, van der Drift shared duties with Glenn Smith in an SBT Motorsport McLaren 650S in the North Island Endurance Series. He has also been responsible for the training for several drivers in the 86 series over the last few seasons.
“I’ve done a bit of development work with drivers who have competed in the series over the years so it will be interesting to be in the hot seat,” said van der Drift.
“I’ve really enjoyed the racing I’ve been doing in New Zealand since international travel became so difficult and I’m looking forward to Pukekohe just as much. It should be a great weekend.”
Conor Adam and Billy Frazer come into the final two races of the series with one-hand on the overall crown after the pair claimed a win and a second at the opening round at Hampton Downs.
The first round of the 2021 Sprint Series will also be from the Waikato venue over January 22-24.
Main Image: Bruce Jenkins