Townshend locked in for full TR86 season
Hawke’s Bay based racer Harry Townshend will step into the fierce competition of a full Toyota 86 Championship campaign in 2023 after debuting in the category at the non-championship Supercars round last September.
The 19 year old Design and Marketing student will compete as a rookie but will be one to watch after an impressive first racing weekend in the category where he made steady steps up in performance each time he took to the track.
Harry has plenty of experience behind him in karts, however, and in almost six years of competition has raced in both Rotax and DVS classes and in the mighty Superkart class, which races on the same circuits as the Toyota 86 Championship.
He will be part of the new two car team run by Winger Motorsport with support from SRS and will have Tim Leach as his team mate, Townshend’s campaign will also be supported by his home town Hawke’s Bay car dealership Bayswater. He will also continue to race in karts in order to gain further seat time during an important phase of his motorsport career.
He says there are some parallels. “The team on the TR86 is really good and we’re at the point where we are refining my driving and how we can make the car work better.
“I’m enjoying it so much. It’s a bit like karting in that we are working as a team and going through the process of analysing data and footage which of course doesn’t lie. I’ve have to get my head around it all with the car rather than the kart of course as there are plenty of new things to learn but we are definitely getting there and it’s working well.”
With the first weekend of competition behind him, he’s also looking forward to the championship proper and making progress across the six rounds. “My nerves were a bit on edge at Pukekohe of course as it was a massive stage and I was disappointed with how I qualified, but I made a step up every race. For 2023 I would love to be battling near the front of the midfield.
“We’ve got a little way to go to be targeting the absolute front but that’s obviously where we would like to get to. I am aiming to learn a lot from my competition and it’s a great place for rookies, I can’t wait for Highlands.”
That first weekend on the 2023 Championship trail gets underway on January 13-15 before a quick trip to Invercargill and Teretonga Raceway the following weekend. With the first two back-to-back legs of the championship completed in the South Island, there’s a week off before the team heads to Hampton Downs for the 67th New Zealand Grand Prix meeting where the championship will be the main support category to the Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship.
A mid-season break concludes in March with round four at Taupo International Motorsport Park before the penultimate round at Manfeild, Circuit Chris Amon and then the championship decider on the shorter Hampton Downs National Circuit over the first weekend of May.