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Cotterill focussed on a move up the grid

Sam Cotterill is looking to make a significant move up the order in his second season in the Toyota 86 Championship.

Last season was the Auckland driver’s first of circuit racing of any sort and his total focus was on learning the car, the race weekend formats and rules, working with his engineers and of course, learning the circuits used in the Toyota 86 Championship.

He handled that steep learning curve impressively, staying out of trouble and keeping his head down as his pace relative to the front runners improved at every round. He also competed in the recent Supercars non-championship weekend at Pukekohe and made another step forward, raising expectations for the season ahead.

With a new-look car, once again backed by Delete drinks, Sam is quietly hoping for a further step up in performance when the 2023 championship gets underway next month in Cromwell at Highlands Motorsport Park.

“I got a lot better through last season and learned a lot and for this season I’m taking all of that and hopefully using it to move up the grid in a significant way,” he explained at the recent Hampton Downs test day for 2023 drivers.

“Last year it was about learning the first 90%, now it is about finding the last 10% and of course that’s the difference between the back and the front of the field, which is looking very competitive again.

“We’ve gone from literally learning which way to turn out of pit lane and understanding how a race meeting works to analysing the data and working on refining the car set up and all of the processes that come with that.

“It feels totally different this year with that experience behind me. I still want to enjoy what I am doing and stay grounded about how we are approaching it, but for sure this season there is a little more intent behind what we will look to do and more focus on what we can achieve.

“If I ended up moving from the guys at the back and start mixing it up with the drivers in the mid field, I’m going to be stoked with that.”

There are five further rounds in the 2023 championship after next month’s Highlands opener. It’s the tenth season of the popular class which over the years has produced some of the best up and coming racers in New Zealand and provided fans and viewers with countless laps of intense racing action.

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