Invited drivers named for Toyota 86 finale
Toyota has named two well-credentialed Supercars co-drivers for this weekend’s 86 Racing Series season finale in Newcastle.
Steve Owen and Jonathon Webb will fill the roles in the Hunter, each of whom ran as invited drivers once last year.
Owen arrives off the back of winning the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s ‘series within a series’ with Chaz Mostert this year, while Webb won the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in 2016.
The former drove in the Toyotas at Sydney Motorsport Park last year with a best race result of sixth before the latter ran in the bruising Sydney Olympic Park round.
Warren Luff, a race winner as an invited driver in the Phillip Island season-opener, and Steven Johnson will be the non-driving mentors.
Aside from Owen and Webb, there will be 29 other drivers headlined by Jimmy Vernon, who sealed the title last time out at Bathurst.
The Sydney driver is free from having to worry about points but says that his approach would have been the same anyway.
“Our goal in every round has been to achieve the strongest result possible and that doesn’t change in the last round,” said Vernon.
“We’re aiming to maintain the momentum of the last four rounds by performing at our best.”
The race for second in the series is on with earnest, however, with the next three drivers behind Vernon separated by only 16 points and 100 on offer for each race win.
Ben Grice currently edges Liam McAdam for second on a countback and will be chasing a first race win in the series with added confidence after a recent test.
“A win was so close I could taste it in the last round at Bathurst, and that’s what we go racing for,” he said.
“Since then we’ve posted the fastest laps we’ve ever done around our test circuit, Winton.”
Cameron Hill, in fourth, has shown the greatest raw speed all season, taking all four poles so far and winning five races, making him a strong chance to snatch runner-up in the series.
“It would be great to end the year with the most victories,” he said.
“That’s our goal in Newcastle; to finish the year on a high and secure second place in the series. I’d be happy with that.”
Toyota 86 will be on-track from Friday at 0915 at the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 for a single practice session before qualifying for the first of three races later in the day.
Series points: Top 5