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New faces and past champions set for TR86 Supercars weekend

Two former champions are among an eye-catching entry list for the one-off non-championship Toyota 86 weekend at the forthcoming ITM Auckland Supersprint (Supercars) event at Pukekohe Park.

Twenty cars will take to the track when the first practice session gets underway this Friday and the field will include 2018-19 champion Callum Hedge and 2019-20 champion Peter Vodanovich.

Supercars returns to its spiritual New Zealand home at Pukekohe Park for the final time in what is set to be a huge weekend of motorsport. The Toyota 86 field includes not only with Hedge and Vodanovich looking to capture some of the headlines but also competitors who will be using it to prepare for the 2023 Toyota 86 Championship.

An amazing prize pool worth $25,000 for the one-off event is the biggest for a single weekend of racing in the history of the Toyota 86 Championship, which will mark its tenth season in 2023 when the official summer season blasts off in January.

There’s plenty of interest within the category at Pukekohe, with Rylan Gray making the trip across the Tasman for what looks like a great rookie contest between him, Tom Bewley, Tim Leach and Harry Townshend.

Reigning class champion John Penny, Pukekohe gun Christina Orr-West, Mark Mallard and Noel Simpson will fight it out for Masters class honours and Mark will also be using the weekend to raise money for the Cancer Society.

Front runners from last season’s championship Justin Allen, Brock Gilchrist, Dion Pitt are on the entry list, as well as long-time former competitor Connor Adam. Adam, like Hedge, now races Porsches and both are looking forward to renewing the fiercely competitive battles they enjoyed in their previous Toyota 86 racing campaigns.

“I’m really looking forward to racing in front of a crowd at the last ever Supercars event at Pukekohe,” added Adam. “When the opportunity arose to drive my old car in Delete colours I just couldn’t say no!”

Hedge too is looking forward to renewing old battles and being part of a massive weekend for the iconic Pukekohe circuit.

“I’m super excited to come back to NZ and have some fun in the 86s at the Pukekohe Supercars round,” he said.

“I don’t get to drive in NZ very often nowadays so it’s great to be racing on home soil again. I will also be running with Ian McNabb and Todd Bickerton who ran me to the 2018/19 title for CareVets so I am very excited to work with them again.

“I don’t have too much expectation in terms of results. The main reason I am racing is because Pukekohe is my favourite circuit and I wanted a chance to race there for a final time after the sad news of the circuit closing in 2023.

“It’s going to be awesome fun racing against and going door to door with my friends as well as all the old and new competitors to the championship. I’m looking forward to jumping back in and seeing if I remember how to change gears after driving paddle shifts for the last year!”

For Vodanovich, the weekend will bring his first race of 2022. “I’m just really looking forward to getting back into the 86 this weekend thanks to Crème Insurance.,” he said. “I haven’t had a race weekend since USF2000 last year, so it will be a good opportunity to sharpen up before my next season. I had my very first race here in a Toyota MR2, so being the last event for Pukekohe I’m keen to put on a show.”

A busy weekend gets underway on Friday with two practice sessions and qualifying later in the day. Saturday will bring two races with the feature race part of Sunday’s build up to the main Supercars event.

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