Matt Brabham will round out his 2016 season as a guest driver in the Australian Toyota 86 Racing Series this weekend in Sydney.
The new-for-2016 single make Toyota series supports the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship which this weekend will come to a conclusion on the streets of the Sydney 2000 Olympic precinct.
Brabham is familiar with the circuit having raced there last year, although in a Stadium Super Truck, so the proposition of a Toyota 86 sportscar is somewhat different.
It was at this very event last year where the motorsport industry was stunned with the announcement that Brabham was to make his maiden appearance in the Indianapolis 500 in 2016. As history shows, he would go on to finish 16th in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and back that up with a faultless run on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to finish 22nd.
In his role as a guest driver as part of the Toyota 86 Racing Series, the 22-year-old will not only be competing but taking a role as ‘driver coach’ for the drivers in the series, many of whom have elevated their careers from karting. There are three guest drivers at the final round of the Series – Brabham will be joined by Bathurst 12 Hour and Bathurst 1000 Champion, Jonathon Webb and Alex Davison – who has had an extensive career in international sportscar competition and the Supercars Championship.
The Toyota 86 Racing Series racecars are based on the production Toyota 86, however deliver 18% more horsepower from the four cylinder ‘Boxer’ engine and have been fitted with safety modifications to make them fit for racing. The Series is conducted in several countries throughout the world including New Zealand, Japan and Germany.
To get himself ready for the rigors of the rough and tumble Toyota 86 Racing Series, Brabham recently competed in an endurance round of the Australian Production Car Championship in a BMW with Queenslander, Leigh Burges. The duo finished third overall with Brabham elevating the car from sixth on the grid at the beginning.
This will bring to an end Brabham’s racing year in 2016 and he will return to the USA following the Sydney event. Although being back on Australia’s Gold Coast since October, Brabham has been working feverishly with potential sponsors and team owners in an attempt to fill one of the final Verizon IndyCar Series seats on offer for season 2017.
QUOTEBOARD: MATT BRABHAM
“It is a good opportunity to join the Toyota 86 Racing Series this weekend at Sydney Olympic Park,” said Brabham. “It will be a bit different being in the coaching role as well as being a competitor in the Series, but having seen some of the races this year, I think it might be me asking some of these guys for some tips – it has been super competitive and some enjoyable racing.
“Sydney Olympic Park holds some fond memories for me from last year. It was where we made it public we were going to Indianapolis with PIRTEK Team Murray. Brett “Crusher” Murray put a great deal of effort to make that announcement in Sydney with PIRTEK and it was one of the most exciting days that I have ever experienced.
“It’ll be very different to the Stadium Super Truck – and I’m hoping I don’t see any sky in the Toyota 86!
“Toyota have put together a great program and the weekend should be a fair bit of fun! I can’t thank them enough for the invite – it really means a lot that they have thought of me to include me as one of their guest drivers.
“After this, we’ll head back to the States and continue discussions for next year. The conversations have been on-going while I’ve been in Australia, there are still a couple of opportunities floating about and hopefully I can be in a position to line-up for the first round of the IndyCar season next year.”
TOYOTA 86 RACING SERIES SCHEDULE – SYDNEY 500:
Friday, December 2
8:45am-9:05am – Practice 1
11:55am-12:15pm – Practice 2
Saturday, December 3
10:45-11:00am – Qualifying
1:25pm-1:45pm – Race 1 – 9 Laps
Sunday, December 4
9:45am-10:10am – Race 2 – 13 Laps
12:30pm-12:50pm – Race 3 – 9 Laps