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PWC: Toyota’s TMG 86 Cup car to make debut at Utah in TCA

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Pirelli World Challenge has a wealth of manufacturer involvement, but one of the brands that hasn’t been a part of the series is Toyota. In a couple weeks at the Utah Motorsports Campus though, that will change.

Toyota’s TMG 86 Cup car will make a guest entry into PWC’s TCA class with driver Craig Stanton, a sports car veteran.

Toyota’s full release is below.

When you think of the Toyota 86, the car’s nimble handling and performance come to mind, but Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) takes the car to another level with its TMG 86 Cup Car. And now the potent sports car will make its North American debut in the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) racing series at Utah Motorsports Campus in August.

Entered in the TCA class, the 86 Cup Car will do battle in the PWC’s double-header race weekend outside of Salt Lake City in Tooele on August 11-13.

“Bringing the TMG 86 Cup Car to Pirelli World Challenge presents an opportunity to test and showcase the ability of our Toyota 86 in a competitive racing series,” said Keith Dahl, General Manager, Motorsports for Toyota Motor North America (TMNA). “The seasoned DG-Spec team won the PWC title for Scion in 2010 and we’re hopeful they can perform well with the 86. We have a great combination of team and driver with Craig Stanton to showcase the ability of this TMG-built 86, so we’re cautiously optimistic for solid results in the Utah double-header.”

The TMG 86 Cup Car will be driven by veteran road racer Craig Stanton, a former GRAND-AM Rolex SportsCar Series GT and Continental Tire GS class champion with over 30 years of driving experience, and fielded by the Dan Gardner Spec (DG-Spec) Racing team. DG-Spec previously won the Pirelli World Challenge TC class championship with the Scion tC in 2010 and has also competed in GRAND-AM and other sports car and endurance series.

“It’s been a while since we raced in Pirelli World Challenge with our championship-winning Scion, but we’ve been at the track constantly over the last few years, testing, developing and racing in other venues,” said Dan Gardner, team owner and namesake of DG-Spec. “The team is really sharp and Craig is on his game. The Toyota 86 is ready to go and we hope to turn some heads in Utah.”

Gardner’s team recently won One Lap of America in the Toyota Sienna R-Tuned in 2016, and has provided support for programs such as the Land Speed Cruiser and Rally RAV4. The Rally RAV4 team of Ryan Millen and Rhianon Gelsomino recently clinched the American Rally Association’s 2WD championship.

The current 86 harkens back to Toyota’s history of sports cars and enthusiast motorsports. When the Corolla AE86 was launched in the United States in the 1980s, it earned a deep enthusiast following, while the car was simultaneously building a cult following in Japan as a drift vehicle. The 2017 Toyota 86 pays homage to the legendary car of the past, while proving itself to be an athletic star today in its own right.

“Our Toyota 86 is a potent car right out of the box, but it gets even hotter with a full lineup of TRD parts and accessories,” said Preston Dyer, National Marketing Manager of Parts and Accessories for TMNA. “TRD gets its inspiration where it counts – on the track – and we couldn’t think of a better way to demonstrate that performance than by entering our TMG 86 Cup Car in Pirelli World Challenge.”

The decision to enter the TMG 86 Cup Car in PWC was birthed in the success of another Toyota 86. After a stock 86 with TRD parts and accessories bested the entire field at the local Spring Fling Autocross event in Southern California in March, Toyota officials began looking for additional opportunities to highlight the prowess of the Toyota sports car that also competes in Formula Drift.

The TMG 86 Cup Car, an enhanced, production model developed by TMG for the GT86 Cup, part of the VLN Series in Germany, had been making the auto show circuit as part of a Toyota 86 display when the idea was hatched to enter the nimble, stock race car in PWC’s TCA class. The TMG 86 Cup car is a production Toyota 86 prepared by TMG for racing competition. The TMG 86 Cup Car features a stock 86 engine and transmission, as well as TMG upgrades to the vehicle’s suspension, brakes and engine tuning, among other changes that include safety equipment for racing.

The PWC Utah event will mark the debut entry by a TMG 86 Cup Car in a North American competition. The TMG 86 Cup Car is only scheduled to compete in both PWC events at Utah Motorsports Campus.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”