Wednesday Work Break: Don’t Call It A Comeback—The 86 Attacks Again

Photography by Luke Munnell

Loyal readers of our website will no doubt remember this Toyota 86 from its past life clad in blue paint as a 2016 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb competitor, where it attempted to traverse the 12.42-mile, 156-turn mountain ascent. The car performed incredibly well in its practice sessions leading up to the event, posted some competitive sector times in its class during competition, and was in the fight for a podium finish, but ultimately suffered a mechanical failure with only four corners left to go on race day.

The breakdown was utter heartbreak for the team and everyone involved with the program, as it just so happened to be the second consecutive year the car was the subject of an unexpected failure. Nothing will demoralize motivation quite like back-to-back mechanical failures on one of the world’s oldest, most prestigious, and yet most demanding hill climbs.

What happened after that? The car, as we’ll say, took a sabbatical; it was left alone at the Evasive Motorsports shop for a little over a year to gather its thoughts, find its center, and harness its chi in the hopes of competing once again.

It wasn’t until earlier this year that Evasive began working on the car again for a new campaign. This time, it would climb (and descend) the famed rolling hills of the Road Atlanta racetrack at the Gridlife South event, where a newly reinvigorated version of the car was designed to enter competition in the Unlimited RWD Time Attack class.

Fast forward to late August, where the 86 officially re-emerged at the Gridlife event. The team at Evasive had been busy updating the chassis from its climb up the treacherous Colorado mountain, and readying it for this important weekend.

The most evident change to the car is the vibrant orange ENEOS livery that now adorns the entire exterior. With the configuration of the chassis fresh in the Japanese oil company’s mind—they recently covered Dai Yoshihara’s Formula Drift Subaru BRZ in a similar livery for a commercial spot—they knew the Toyota iteration of the same chassis would pull off the look just as well.

Speaking of Dai Yoshihara, he’s probably the other biggest change to the car since the Pikes adventure. In the past, Evasive Motorsports has readily used their friend—and resident racecar pilot—Rob Walker for their time attack forays, but this time the seat was relinquished to that of former Formula Drift Champion and seasoned time attack driver Dai Yoshihara for the Road Atlanta skirmish. Turn 14 Distribution carried over its commitment of not only the Pikes Peak car but also Yoshihara’s FD Pro car into this involvement with the driver.

Along with a driver change comes all of the ancillary vehicle alterations which are required to permit the driver to easily operate the vehicle, as the new pilot needs things to feel familiar to them, and what is comfortable for one, may not be comfortable for another.

In addition to outfitting the car to cater to Yoshihara’s requirements, Evasive completely revised the aerodynamic package by reworking the underbody aero, the front splitter, and assigning a new rear diffuser to handle spitting the freshly shaped air out the back.

But that wasn’t the only aspect of the car to receive new treatments. The propulsion for the car was next on the list, with a new engine making its way between the front struts. Also adjusted to properly carry the output from the new power plant is a different rear final drive ratio, better suited to the scope of Road Atlanta corners.

The final piece of the puzzle to be enriched was the suspension, which was given revised suspension arms along with higher spring rates to tackle the intense winding hills.

So, what happened during the new package’s weekend at Gridlife South’s Track Battle? They killed it, right out of the gate by sealing the first place spot in Unlimited RWD with a stout 1:25.968 on the first day! When you consider that it was Yoshihara’s first time competing in the car, it becomes quite a staggering statistic—and a hell of a weekend for the new setup.

The crew mentioned there are no other plans for the car to compete at any other events in 2018, other than the off chance of Super Lap Battle. But they did leak that the real goal is to test its limits on one of the most demanding and grueling stages once again, and take it back to Pikes Peak in 2019. We can only hope that these goals are reached, and that the team finally achieves the success that they all so wholly deserve!