A field of 34 has been confirmed for Round 1 of the 2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia 86 Series at the NTI Townsville 500 Supercars this weekend, including two invitational drivers and a cohort from the 86 junior series.
Three races will be held at the Reid Park Street Circuit bout, with 2023 Bathurst 6 Hour winner Jayden Ojeda – who will co-drive #34 Truck Assist Camaro with Jack Le Brocq in October's Bathurst 1000 – one of two invitational entries, the other being 2022 Australian Rally Champion Lewis Bates.
Twelve drivers making their debut in the main series in Townsville come directly from the 86 Scholarship Series, which was inaugurated for 2023.
Among those are Supercars development drivers, 17-year-old Oscar Targett and 18-year-old Matt Hillyer, of Grove Racing and Walkinshaw Andretti United respectively, the latter having clean swept the second round of this year's new 86 Scholarship Series.
One of the finalists in the 2022 FIA Girls on Track Rising Stars program, 15-year-old karting star Alice Buckley, and Round 3 Scholarship Series winner 20-year-old Max Geoghegan, grandson of the late five-time Australian Touring Car Champion Ian ‘Pete' Geoghegan, will also step up to the main series.
“It's really great to see the enormous demand to get a drive in this series,” said Toyota Australia chief marketing officer, Vin Naidoo.
“Our goal has always been to provide an affordable grassroots series for those that just love to race, along with a great learning environment for aspiring professionals to gain experience and hone their race craft.”
Geoghegan, Buckley, Targett and Hillyer will join 11 previous series drivers that received an automatic entry after they finished in the top 20 last year.
The one-make series for Toyota 86s will see previous and new competitors go head-to-head through 15 races over five rounds, which will culminate at Mount Panorama at Bathurst in October.
This year's series will also continue with the previous model 86 (ZN6), with the second generation model – badged as the GR86 in Toyota showrooms – set to debut next season.
The 86 Series will first roll out for Practice 1 in Townsville at 08:10 local time/08:10 AEST Friday July 7.