Millennials to the fore: Jaden Ransley isn’t old enough to drive on the road and is still refining his manual gearshift techniques, but the Christchurch racer is taking on a premier motor racing championship this summer.
Born after the turn of the century and just 14 years old, Ransley is three weeks from his premier motor racing debut on the fast straights of Pukekohe in the 2016-2017 Toyota 86 Championship.
Currently a student at St Thomas of Canterbury College, Ransley is stepping directly from a successful karting career and joining what may be a category-record grid of racers all with their eyes on the championship’s top prize and a share of the $100,000 championship prize purse.
Across all six rounds and 18 races the championship attracted 27 drivers in 2015-2016. In the countdown to the opening round in November, the championship shows every sign of breaking its own record with a starting grid of up to 22 drivers for the first round that includes returning racers and new arrivals in almost equal number.
“It’s going to be tough, that’s for sure, all the drivers will be going for it. [Category manager] Geoff Short has done a huge job of promoting the championship, it’s awesome,” he said.
Ransley, who won the 100cc Junior Yamaha Class at the 2016 Kartsport NZ Sprint Championship, is the second Millennial to race the championship, following in the steps of another Christchurch racer, Marcus Armstrong.
Ransley has tested at Hampton Downs and was a finalist in the 2016-2017 CareVets Racing Toyota Scholarship. He said the chance to be part of the CareVets scholarship evaluation was a great opportunity to get familiar with the car, helping to make the transition from karting smoother; and receiving tips from judge and mentor Greg Murphy was memorable.
“Having Greg come out for some laps was pretty cool. He really helped me with advice that immediately helped me go quicker,” he said.
Another Christchurch racer, Ryan Yardley, has been valuable source of advice going into the first round at Pukekohe.
Jaden Ransley is sponsored by Harcourts and expects to announce further backing before the first round of the championship.
The 2016-2017 Toyota 86 Championship starts at the ITM V8 Supercar event at Pukekohe November 4-6. All rounds of the championship are televised and the $100,000 prize purse across the championship is the biggest in New Zealand’s current premier motor racing.