V8 Supercar powerhouse and championship leaders Triple Eight Race Engineering have joined with the Tony Quinn Foundation to provide the next champion of New Zealand's Toyota 86 series with a V8 Supercar test drive.

This incentive is the one of the most significant prizes ever offered to New Zealand motorsport competitors and a real boost for the Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship, which is about to enter it's ninth season.

"It's going to be an awesome experience for the winner," said Tony Quinn. "They will see how a top team works from the engineering and technical side to the driving side of things and of course they will have a golden opportunity to catch the eye of those in the team and learn from the best."

In Australia, a similar series has already led Will Brown from winning the 2016 T86 championship to a full-time drive in V8 Supercars.

Roland Dane, Triple Eight Managing Director and Team Principal, said they were only too happy to assist when asked to support the Tony Quinn Foundation.

"New Zealand has a disproportionately high number of world-class drivers and it's excellent to see so many of them enjoying success around the world in a broad range of categories. Tony's considerable support of motorsport and the foundations of young driver development in particular is admirable and we're very happy to support his passion through Triple Eight," said Dane.

Dane's star driver and current V8 championship leader, Shane van Gisbergen, is full of praise for the initiative, himself a benefactor of a New Zealand scholarship and support from Tony Quinn along the way.

"It's really cool to see TQ helping young Kiwi drivers with the Foundation. He's given me a lot of support over the years and he's an awesome person to have in your corner, so the drivers who get to be part of the Foundation are very lucky." 

"I'm stoked that Triple Eight is offering a test day to the Toyota 86 winner, I'll definitely be there on the day to help the driver learn the car and understand the data so that they can make the most of the opportunity. I think it's an awesome initiative," said van Gisbergen.

Teammate and Triple Eight co-owner Jamie Whincup is equally impressed with Tony Quinn's offer.

"I'm a strong believer in Triple Eight giving back to the sport that's given us so much over the years so it was a no-brainer to support the Tony Quinn Foundation," said Whincup.

"The test day won't just be a few laps in a Supercar and calling it a day. Triple Eight will be putting our resources behind it to make sure the driver gets the most out of it that they possibly can. That means a well prepped car, a professional crew and engineers to help translate the data into lap time. The winner will be getting the full Triple Eight experience."

The Toyota 86 series on both sides of the Tasman have proved to be an excellent proving ground for talent. It provides a solid, manageable and affordable step into touring cars, which for many, is the first time that young drivers race door-to-door in a tin-top car as they come out of open-wheelers. It provides a comfortable buffer between a development category like Formula Ford and a Super3 car, for example.

The prize offer looks certain to boost the field of New Zealand's Best Bars Toyota 86 series with Toyota New Zealand General Manager of Marketing Andrew Davis expecting both big numbers and significant names on the entry list.

"We have always been focused on providing opportunities to find our next world champion and believe that the Toyota 86 category is an essential pathway in New Zealand," he said, adding that the Triple Eight Supercars test reflects a common philosophy to help our best young drivers. "It's exciting times and great to have this support from the TQ Foundation."

The test day with Triple Eight will help the winner experience just how big the step is from a modified road car to a purpose-built race car. The driver will have an opportunity to feel the weight and grip of the car and, with the support of Triple Eight engineers and drivers, will be able to maximise the learning process to best understand these huge differences between the vehicles to extract speed.

"It's hugely important to me that Triple Eight plays a role in the development of future talent so I'm really proud that we can support the Tony Quinn Foundation in this way. The wonderful thing about this opportunity is that it's open to everyone," said Triple Eight Co-owner Jessica Dane.

"I would love to see a talented female driver win the championship and this test day with Triple Eight. New Zealand produces an incredible amount of motorsport talent, so hopefully Triple Eight's contribution can provide even a small fraction of assistance to helping another exceptional driver reach the world stage," she added. 

For New Zealand circuits owner Tony Quinn, the test with Triple Eight Race Engineering is an extension to the recently announced Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy, which offers financial support for a driver to enter the Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship, with another package of assisted entry into the Toyota Racing Series for the FT-60 single-seater cars.

Caption: V8 Supercar driver and championship leader Shane van Gisbergen will be on hand to assist the Tony Quinn Foundation winner at their test day.

Photo Credit: Edge Photographics