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PRESS STORY/Supercars (Photo: Toyota 86 Series final round Newcastle 2017 – Darin Mandy)

Toyota Australia has extended its commitment to the 86 Racing Series, backing the Supercars support class through 2020.

The series has run since 2016, initially on a three-year commitment, operating as a national-level category on the Supercars support bill.

Big grids have been its hallmark, with the cut-price series attracting a mix of young guns and experienced drivers alongside Toyota’s own guest stars.

Toyota’s chief marketing officer, Wayne Gabriel, says the two-year extension provides important certainty for competitors.

“Our decision to extend the Toyota 86 Racing Series gives certainty to competitors and potential entrants who need to know that their investment in the car and racing package will enable them to compete for several years,” explained Gabriel.

“In its first two years, the series has shown its ability to develop drivers and teams in a professional environment, while delivering the door-to-door action that excites motorsport fans.

“The comparatively low cost of cars and racing attract a range of drivers, from those still at school right through to businessmen wanting some fun.

“Competitors and fans can look forward to at least three more seasons of full grids, intense action, and continued development of Australia’s future motorsport talent.”

Aussie Driver Search featured in the 2017 T86 Series and will again this year – Photo: Darin Mandy

Bright added to guest driver roster

Recently-retired Supercars star Jason Bright has meanwhile been named as one of the category’s guest drivers for 2018.

Although touted as a likely PIRTEK Enduro Cup starter, the Toyota deal is Bright’s first confirmed drive since last year’s Newcastle Supercars finale.

Reigning Bathurst winner Luke Youlden and Dunlop Super2 Series driver Chris Pither have also been added to the guest driver roster that already includes the likes of Warren Luff, Steve Owen and Jonathon Webb.

Another former Bathurst winner, Jason Bargwanna, has meanwhile been named as a full-time driver mentor after racing in the class as a guest.

The series expands from five rounds to six in 2018, taking in the Phillip Island, Townsville, Bend Motorsport Park, Sandown, Bathurst and Newcastle Supercars events.

A total prize-pool of $150,000 is on offer, with competitors taking part in an official test today at Sydney Motorsport ahead of the season.

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