Lyall Williamson’s International Motorsport team – one of the most enduring and successful race operations in the history of New Zealand motorsport – will run cars in the coming Toyota 86 Championship for young drivers Connor Adam and Michael Scott.
Connor Adam made his 86 debut in last year’s series, taking a podium finish and finishing eighth in a field of 20. The Auckland-based 19- year old started his racing career in karts at the age of seven and has been racing for an unbroken 12 years with a best karting result of second in the 2015-2016 ProKart Championship in KZ2.
The 2016-2017 Toyota 86 Championship was his first experience in full-sized cars. It was a transition he found relatively easy.
“It’s all about having track time and learning everything you can,” Adam said. Starting as a single-car team, though, was a challenge. “Coming out of karts I had trouble analysing the 86 and getting the setup right, but when Michael [Scott] joined us at Ruapuna we were able to work together and share data and my qualifying times improved hugely,” he said.
Adam says his favourite circuit would be either Ruapuna near Christchurch or Pukekohe, where racing in front of the massive V8 Supercar crowd at New Zealand’s biggest sporting event gives drivers a “huge boost”.
“That whole weekend is just amazing, what a way to start the Championship!”
At the series test day held last week at Hampton Downs, Adam had his first longer run on the Championship’s new Hankook semi-slick tyre.
“It was very good, not so different from the slicks we used last year. Corner speeds were very close, and it’s easier to feel what the tyre is doing under braking or mid-corner. That helps a lot with set-up of the car too. I’m looking forward to gridding up in November.”
Connor Adam’s goal this year is to be in the top three at the end of the six round Championship. He is sponsored by transport industry company Weigh Northland and says he is still seeking a final group of sponsors for.
Michael Scott has a unique career CV on the build: Formula F1600 champion in 2015-2016, two seasons racing the single-seater Toyota Racing Series in 2013 and 2014 and another two in the Toyota 86 Championship that culminated in a third overall in 2016-2017.
He likes to stay busy: Scott raced TRS while studying mechanical engineering at tertiary level, and won the Formula F1600 Championship while also racing the Toyota 86 Championship. He is now employed as a race engineer.
Michael Scott’s karting career started in 2007 and includes no less than 18 major events and championships, with a best result of fourth overall coming in the 2011 Kartsport NZ Schools Championship, racing in the 100cc Yamaha Light category. Second in Formula Ford in 2014-2015, he made his Toyota 86 debut as one of two drivers awarded CareVets Racing scholarships. He did double duty in 2015-2016, racing the F1600 car as well as his Toyota 86.
Hard work brought its own reward – not only did he win the Formula Ford championship but he was also fourth overall in the 86 series, edging out teammate Ryan Yardley who was fifth.
The following year he raced with the support of International Motorsport to third overall despite a massive crash at the first round.
He returns this year as part of a two-car campaign under the IM umbrella. In this year’s Toyota 86 Championship Michael Scott is taking aim at the outright title.