Gray hunting podiums in Trans-Tasman TR86 campaign
Sixteen year old Australian racer Rylan Gray is confirmed for the 2023 Toyota 86 Championship and the youngster will race in both the New Zealand and Australian championships in a busy year of racing.
Gray – who hails from Denham in New South Wales – dipped his toes in the water at the non-championship weekend at the final Supercars meeting at Pukekohe in September and saw enough to get excited about a season on New Zealand’s circuits.
Gray, astonishingly, first took to motorsport at the age of two riding motorbikes and competed until the age of 14 when he decided to try a switch to four wheels.
In 2020 he made the step with a programme at the Norwell Motorplex in Australia, the facility run by former Bathurst winner and Supercars icon Paul Morris.
Rylan says he benefitted hugely from coaching input from both Morris and Triple Eight Race Engineering’s Broc Feeney before two seasons racing in a variety of classes from the super competitive Excel series, to Aussie Racing Cars and finally two rounds of the Australian Toyota 86 Championship before heading to New Zealand. He’s been testing the car at Hampton Downs and is eager to go racing in the New Year.
“After Pukekohe I got a bit of a taste for the competition in the New Zealand championship and was pretty keen to do it,” he explained.
“The tracks have a great reputation and everyone knows how competitive the championship is over here, so I was really keen to come and have a proper go at a full campaign.
“There’s a few things to learn and work on but I’ve set myself the target of getting into the top five regularly and getting a few podiums as the season progresses. That would be pretty awesome.”
Gray will be travelling across the Tasman to race in the championship rounds, which will begin next month at the Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell before a quick dash the following weekend to Invercargill’s Teretonga Park.
The championship heads north for the remaining four rounds. Hampton Downs’ longer configuration international circuit is the venue for the third round where the Toyota 86 Championship will be the major support category for the 67th New Zealand Grand Prix.
The teams get a mid-term break after that before the final three rounds at Taupo International Motorsport Park, Manfeild – Circuit Chris Amon and the season finale on the shorter national layout of Hampton Downs.