Young gun Thomas Mallard will follow in his dad Mark’s footsteps in the Toyota 86 Championship this season, taking the wheel of the familiar white TR86 racer.
Thomas is the fourth generation racer from the Mallard motorsport dynasty and will be a rookie to watch after some eye-catching drives in the Ssangyong Rhino series from which he graduates.
The man behind the wheel of the number 8 car for the past few seasons, Mark, is out of the hot seat this season having taken on duties as a Board member for MotorSport New Zealand. This has conveniently made way for Thomas to step up and make his debut in the most competitive one make championship series in New Zealand.
The 15 year old is one hundred per cent focussed on making the most of the opportunity. Thomas has had just three testing days in the car so far but acquitted himself well in testing last week at Hampton Downs. He’s also had some quality input from former champion Callum Hedge as he dials himself into the fastest race car he’s competed in so far.
“It’s my favourite car to drive so far after the 2KCup Toyota and the Ssangyong and I can’t wait to get out there racing,” he said.
“This is always a tough championship where you need both consistency and speed to do well, but we have good knowledge of the tracks and of course the car and I were going well last season getting race wins and some fastest laps, so it’s as good a time as any to be stepping up a gear and moving to the Toyota 86 Championship.”
Young Thomas has been working hard off track ahead of the season too, learning the ropes of securing sponsorship and adding 24 Red and Pak’nSave onto the list of backers helping make his season possible.
The 2023 edition of the Toyota 86 Championship – the tenth anniversary season – is shaping up to provide another season-long battle where the front runners are separated by a knife edge. It all begins in just a few weeks at Highlands Motorsport Park in the South Island before the second round at Teretonga Park.
The championship heads north for the remaining four rounds. Hampton Downs’ longer configuration international circuit is the venue for the third round where the Toyota 86 Championship will be the major support category for the 67th New Zealand Grand Prix.
The teams get a mid-term break after that before the final three rounds at Taupo International Motorsport Park, Manfeild – Circuit Chris Amon and the season finale on the shorter national layout of Hampton Downs.
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|