SYDNEY driver Josh Hunter has never been better prepared to take on the Toyota 86 Racing Series, with round two of the national series taking place in his own back yard – Sydney Motorsport Park.
The Brian Hilton Motorsport racer has declared his sole intention is to clinch the win following a frustrating opening round at Winton in May.
“Winton was really the weekend of what could have been for me. We set the best time in practice, but made a setup change ahead of qualifying that didn’t pay off, and then I was forced to pay for other people’s mistakes in the races,” Hunter said.
“I know we had the pace to be on the podium, so I’m aiming to win this weekend. I just need to execute it properly.”
Hunter said the entire Brian Hilton Motorsport team has gone to great lengths behind the scenes to make sure all four cars qualify towards the front, but there is also a great element of the unknown.
“As a team, Brian Hilton Motorsport has had a productive test in between rounds and we’re on top of things, but we won’t know where we sit until we compare times with the rest of the field on Friday,” he said.
“It’s tricky because the 86s have never raced at Sydney Motorsport Park, so no one knows what the bench mark time is. Conditions will be totally different when the Supercars lay down grip, so even our test data is circumstantial, but we are definitely more prepared this time around.”
As well as being his home track, Sydney Motorsport Park is also where Hunter scored one of the most memorable victories of his career – taking out the opening round of the 2012 Kumho Touring Car Series on debut.
However, he knows there will be no room for error when he’s behind the #2 Castrol 86 this weekend.
“I’ve had plenty of laps of Sydney Motorsport Park, but you can’t afford to become complacent,” Hunter said. “Turn one is a sticking point for a lot of drivers, so we’ll need to stay out of trouble. I’m hoping the driving standards have improved since the opening round.”
Hunter has also been investing in the team in other ways, by mentoring Brian Hilton Motorsport’s gentleman driver Gerard Maggs.
Driving the #66 World’s Best Technology/Samsung entry, Maggs is a relative newcomer to Pro-Am racing, so Hunter took it upon himself to mentor him.
“I was really fortunate to have people like Mick Ritter from Sonic Motorsport, Jose Fernandez and my dad mentor me,” Hunter explained. “They taught me about the need to be strict, how to win races, car control and also how to give meaningful feedback to the team.
“Gerard’s making great progress for someone fresh to the sport. We know what he needs to work on and he’s learning to give constructive feedback so we can help him develop as a driver, and tune his #68 Toyota so it’s more suited to his style.”
Practice for round two of the Toyota 86 Racing Series takes place on Friday (26 August) at Sydney Motorsport Park. Qualifying and the opening 10-lap race will happen Saturday, with a further two races on Sunday.