It’s an exciting time for Australian motoring enthusiasts. It looks as though the market has well and truly shifted away from the conservative uber-bland models we were forced to endure from the turn of the millennium. Manufacturers have cottoned on to the fact that environmentally friendly doesn’t have to mean soulless. One of the driving forces behind this sport car resurgence is the amazing success of the Toyota 86 and it’s evil twin BRZ. To be more specific, the market response to a car built to be fun. You only need to drive on Australian roads for 5 minutes to see how immensely popular the small sports coupe is. The overwhelming response has given other car makers the confidence and motivation to build and sell ‘fun’ cars too.

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Building on that success and falling inline with similar competitions around the world Toyota Australia are about to officially kick off their Pro-Am ‘Toyota 86 Racing Series.’ #T86RS.
The series is designed to be an affordable and entertaining platform that will roll around the country with the V8 Supercar series. While the 86’s may lack the power and outright speed of the Supercars, it plans to make up for it with plenty more pack fighting and sliding throughout the series. Panel beaters and spray painters rejoice!

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation
Toyota have opted to move away from super grippy slicks and instead fitted a grooved control tyre from Dunlop. The series will use a grooved R-Spec Dureza tyre that’s designed to allow for a bit of showboating and a lot of sideways action. (Read: Plenty of paint exchanges)

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation

Overall, the race car isn’t to different from the street 86. A race package was developed by Bates Racing, who have a a long and successful history with Toyota Motorsports. The main aim was to keep the cars affordable. A race car and entry to the series will set you back $70,000. Which is seriously chump change when compared to other categories running at a similar level. Racers will be fighting for $125,000 worth of prize money.

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation

The mods included in the race package:
Adjustable coilovers front and back, built by Aussie legend Murray Cootes of MCA Suspension.
Larger 18″ O.Z. lightweight rims with Dunlop control tyre.AP Racing calipers (Fronts: 4 Pot, 330mm rotors. Rears: 2 Pot, 316mm rotors).
Custom straight-through exhaust and extractors.
TRD oil cooler.
Motec M150 ECU with a custom tune. (Locked to prevent sneaky competitors 😉 )
Full weld in safety cage.
Gutted interior.
The custom exhaust and tune and is supposed to give competitors approximately an additional 20% in power. So we’ll say roughly 175kW at the wheels.

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation

Ok. Cool Story. Well that all sounds good on paper, but how is it on the track? I’m glad you asked…

We were given the opportunity to get behind the wheel of both a standard 86 and the new track package exactly as the competitors will run them.

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation

After a quick introduction to some of the work behind the scenes to get the series up and running we were taken out to Garage 86, which on any other day of the week is called Sydney Motorsport Park South Circuit. Inside Rick Bates talked us through the modification package and how they arrived at the final shopping list.

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation

While that was happening, the rest of the team were prepping our chariots. We were first given the opportunity to hit the South Circuit in a set of completely stock 86’s. Well I lie, they were also fitted with the Dunlop control tyres. They were stock apart from that though. In fact, one of the cars available to press was the very same limited edition Blackline I had on loan a couple of months earlier.

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation

I was in the first group to head out. Helmets were on and we were let loose on SMSP’s South Circuit. A fairly tight and twisty track with a tonne of elevation change. Old timers will tell you that it’s very reminiscent of the long extinct Amaroo track in central NSW.

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation

Having spent a week or so in an 86 on the street I had a rough idea of what to expect. I was wrong though. Don’t get me wrong when I say this, on the streets when driving like a good citizen, the 86 isn’t the most exciting car to drive. It’s not terribly powerful and you don’t really get to test it’s potential during day to day driving.

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation

I completely underestimated just how well the 86 in stock form would get me from point to point on the track. Not having to worry about Mr Policeman or absent minded soccer mums while driving changed the vehicle dynamic immensely. The ability to keep the revs up high, brake super late and throw the car through corners was so fun! More fun than my 4×4 Evo 9 by a mile (or an inch).

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation

While I can confirm that the track records were under absolutely no threat of being broken, I can also confirm that I didn’t care. I was having to much fun throwing myself around, and waiting another 10th of a second to brake before the next turning point. If was to do a direct comparison to driving my Evo IX I reckon each lap would have been at least 5 seconds slower and approximately 500% more enjoyable.

Fellow Speed Nation contributor, Dave Oliver had his turn shortly after me. He not only had a lot of fun, but managed to impress the crowd and instructors with some tight driving. This kid can steer as well as he can shoot, which is a massive compliment.

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation

With our stock car laps out of the way, we jumped into the race prepped cars. Set up exactly as they’ll be run during competition. Going from one car to the next makes my job super easy to draw up a direct comparison of the two. Although the platform hasn’t changed dramatically, the difference between the two was like night and day.

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation

Apart from the extra rigidity of the full cage, every modification to the race variant would be easy to buy off the shelf and set up on your very own 86. I’m sure the suspension tweaks could be achieved by talking nicely with the gents at MCA.  It’s awesome to know that building something similar is realistic for 86 owners. The car was such a buzz to drive. Being so light meant that it was possible to go super deep before dabbing those brakes and throwing the car through each corner.

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation

It took me a while, but I finally REALLY understood what the 86 guys instantly got. The car is a LOT of fun.

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation

If your interested in watching how this series will evolve over the next three years, and you should be, you can view the race calendar for 2016 below! Get on board and support new racing in Australia!
If you’d like to know more about the #T86RS you can find all the information about this exciting new series on their website here.

Toyota 86 Cup #T86RS Speed Nation

The 2016 T86RS calendar:

Location Dates^
Winton SuperSprint 20-22 May
Sydney Motorsport Park SuperSprint 26-28 Aug
Wilson Security Sandown 500 16-18 Sept
Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 6-9 Oct
Coates Hire Sydney 500 25-27 Nov

Here’s a quick clip of Matthew Everingham and Dave Oliver from Speed Nation having some fun!