2016–’17 Toyota 86 Championship runner-up Reid Harker has signalled he wants to be a contender in next year’s Castrol Toyota Racing Series.
The 21-year-old recently tested Toyota’s FT50 open wheeler at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park following on from his success in the feeder series.
With a taste of the wings-and-slicks platform, the former New Zealand KartSport champion said he’s ready for the next step in his fledging career.
“The Toyota Racing Series is the next logical step for us in New Zealand,” Harker said.
“Toyota has supported us in the past with the 86 Championship and they’re a good manufacturer to be aligned with.”
In its 13-year history the Toyota Racing Series has produced many of the world’s racing elite.
The likes of 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber began their careers in the series. Japanese Formula 3 champion Nick Cassidy is a three-time New Zealand Grand Prix winner and two-time series title winner.
The record goes on with international success stories like Daniil Kvyat who won the GP3 Series and reached Red Bull Racing’s F1 team. Lance Stroll was a champion in 2015, won the European Formula 3 Championship and now drives for the Williams F1 Team.
It’s those success stories that Harker wants to emulate. With the desire to reach the upper echelons of sports car racing globally he believes the Toyota Racing Series is right for him.
“It’s a big step up for me, it’ll be a challenge and it’ll be good for my profile around the country. Then hopefully we can move forward from there.”
Harker has set his sights on Europe as his ultimate goal, but knows there are avenues throughout Asia where so many New Zealanders are heading.
“I’d love to race Porsche Supercup in Europe, that’d be ideal. Asia is quite a popular route especially for the Kiwis—Chris van der Drift and Will Bamber have done well there.
“Ideally I’d like to go through the Porsche programme and race Supercup throughout Europe down the track.
“Really I just want to be in a car.”
Harker’s test in the Tatuus built FT50 was an eye-opener for the Toyota 86 graduate who thrived with so much downforce at his fingertips. He knows that experience with high aero will be to his advantage in a GT3 car.
“The aero allows you to take the corners so much faster. You can brake in a shorter space of time, roll through the corner harder and get on the gas quicker. It’s a lighter, faster, slick shod car.
“Anything on a slick tyre that’s fast and well-built translates to GT3 racing. I think the more things you can drive the better you’ll be able to adapt in the future to different cars.”