TOUGH COMPETITION EXPECTED FOR TOYOTA 86 RACING SERIES IN SYDNEY
** Round 3 is "home" for many of the front-runners**
** Supercar champion Steven Johnson takes on young guns Hill and Vernon**
** Circuit-racing debut for rising rally star Harry Bates**
Toyota's 86 Racing Series has attracted the largest entry of the year for round three at Sydney Motorsport Park on August 18-20.
Series pacesetters Jimmy Vernon and Cameron Hill can expect a tough challenge with many of the front-runners on 'home' ground at the circuit in Sydney's west.
Invited driver and race-winning Supercar driver Steven Johnson will provide additional competition.
The second invited driver is Australian Rally Championship leader and circuit-racing debutant Harry Bates, son of four-time national rally champion Neal Bates.
Bates, who is about to debut a new Toyota Yaris on gravel, is looking forward to the challenge of competing on tarmac in a rear-drive sports car.
"I am sure there will be some rally experience that will help, but there are new techniques to learn," Bates said.
"For the first time I'll be racing door-to-door with other cars instead of against the clock."
The driver mentor for this round is year 2000 Bathurst 1000km race winner Jason Bargwanna.
Winner of the recent Townsville round, Canberra's Cameron Hill, said Sydney would be a tough round with so many drivers able to draw on their experience and data from competing at the circuit last season.
"Last year was a really good meeting for us with pole position and two wins and a third," Hill said. "Hopefully we can score another strong result there, especially coming off a successful run at Townsville."
Hill holds the class lap record at 1m 49.29s for the 3.93km Gardner Grand Prix circuit layout, named in honour of Australia's 1987 World 500cc motorcycle champion Wayne Gardner.
Sydney's Jimmy Vernon leads the Toyota 86 Racing Series on 470 points, from Hill 334, Dylan Thomas 324, Luke King 322, Tim Brook 320 and Damon Strongman 316.
A maximum 300 points is on offer at each of the five rounds.
Toyota 86 Racing Series
The Toyota 86 Racing Series is designed to provide an entry point and training ground for up-and-coming drivers, offering a confirmed prize pool of $125,000.
Open to variants of Toyota's cult-classic sports car, the series is part of the support program at selected rounds of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
In 2017 the Toyota 86 Racing Series will run over five events: Phillip Island 500 (April 21-23), Townsville 400 (July 7-9), Sydney SuperSprint (August 18-20), Bathurst 1000 (October 5-8) and Newcastle 500 (November 24-26).
For regular updates and more information go to https://toyota.com.au/86/racing-series
In 2017, Toyota marks the 60th anniversary of its first international motorsport entry (and the first by a Japanese car manufacturer), when it contested the 1957 Round Australia Trial. This is why many people consider Australia to be the birthplace of Toyota motorsport. Today, Toyota contests the FIA-sanctioned World Rally Championship, World Endurance Championship which features the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the gruelling Dakar Rally. Closer to home, the Toyota 86 Racing Series seeks to develop the talent of tomorrow as Australia's premier grassroots circuit-racing category.
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