Young aussie 86 driver makes international racing debut at Fuji

** Lachlan Gibbons finishes with a category 4th place in Toyota 86 race in Japan **

** T86 race held as part of annual TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival **

** Race entry part of Lachlan’s 2019 Toyota 86 Racing Series Kaizen Award prize **

“It was absolutely the best experience of my life so far.”

That’s how Lachlan Gibbons, the young 23-year-old racing driver described his racing debut at the iconic track at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan over the weekend.

As the winner of the 2019 Toyota 86 Racing Series Kaizen Award for continuous improvement, Gibbons won a trip to Japan to compete in the 86 race held as part of the annual TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival, a celebration of Toyota’s rich motorsport heritage.

After qualifying in fifth spot, Lachlan raced hard for eight laps on the high-speed, 4.5km track to finish fourth in his category and 11th overall in a field of 27.

“It was definitely a new experience for me racing at an iconic circuit like Fuji Speedway, definitely something very special that I will never forget,” Lachlan said.

“Because we started fifth, I am happy that we moved up to get fourth in the end. I was up running as high as third at one point, but it was a very tough race, so I am very happy with how the race went,” he said.

But Lachlan said his prize gave him far more than the opportunity to race at Fuji as it was a real learning experience in the true spirit of Kaizen that he could carry into his daily life and future career in motorsport.

“I have learnt a lot of different things, especially the value of communication,” Lachlan said.

“In Australia it’s easy to take for granted, speaking the same language as everyone else, but with none of us able to speak fluent Japanese, the challenges were made very clear at various points through the trip.

“I made the effort to try and pick up some Japanese so I could communicate better with some of the other people here.

“I try to make an effort to learn as much as possible from every day and every new experience and that attitude of always wanting to grow and improve as a person, both on and off the track, is absolutely a beneficial trait to have in any racing driver,” he said.

Lachlan said it was great to be able to learn from his host team and gain experience that he will be able to transfer to his own racing when he returns to compete in the Toyota 86 Racing Series in 2020.

“Racing at speed is very different to racing on slower tracks such as Newcastle where our last round was held,” Lachlan said.

“Fuji Speedway is a very fast track with an average speed of 130km/h. It’s a different style of racing and a different style of racecraft and I think that will really help me next year at tracks like Bathurst and Sydney Motorsport Park and the higher speed tracks,” he said.

Toyota Australia Chief Marketing Officer Wayne Gabriel said Lachlan was a great ambassador for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Australia and was a very deserving winner of the 2019 Kaizen Award.

“As a young driver, Lachlan is very open to learning and continuing to improve both in his life and motorsport and that is what is at the heart of the Toyota 86 Racing Series,” Mr Gabriel said.

“As an affordable, grassroots entry into motorsport, the Toyota 86 Racing Series offers aspiring professional drivers the chance to learn and hone their racing skills on some of Australia’s most iconic circuits while also providing plenty of tight, thrilling racing action for passionate fans.

“The experience drivers gain in racing in a one-make series, where all the cars are near identical, is excellent for developing racecraft while our invited professional drivers at each round and full-time mentor for the series are able to impart invaluable knowledge and analysis,” he said.

The Toyota 86 race at Fuji Speedway was held as part of an annual celebration of Toyota motorsport at the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival.

The festival brings together displays, demonstrations and races from across the Toyota world and Lachlan said it was quite eye-opening to see the extent of Toyota’s involvement in motorsport.

“I certainly became more aware of how prominent Toyota is as a brand in motorsport,” Lachlan said.

“I was obviously aware of its World Rally Championship and World Endurance Championship teams, but there is also Super GT and GT 300 cars, and huge support for drivers across the world of motorsport.

“It’s actually staggering to see that in action at a single day event and certainly it has taught me that Toyota has a real presence in the world of motorsport and Toyota GAZOO Racing has a very bright future ahead,” he said.

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