“That was pretty intense,” Ashley Blewett said after fighting his way to the lead of the first Toyota Finance 86 Championship race of the weekend, then watching Jamie McNee slip past and having to fight off a hard-charging Tom Alexander for most of the ten-lap race.
The front row of the grid for this afternoon’s race told the story of the championship battle so far, with Wellington’s Jamie McNee on pole and Blewett on P2. From the start the pair were door-handle to doo-handle into the first corner before McNee made sure of the lead. Blewett fell victim to Alexander in an aggressive pass. The pair then become locked in a pitched battle for second place while Jamie McNee extended his lead out beyond a second.
Behind them the field was spreading out, Callum Quin and Matt Gibson doing battle and Waiuku’s Cory Holmes looking for a strong finish on what is arguably his home track.
Gibson’s car made contact with Quin’s under braking for the new deviation on the back straight, Quin spinning down the escape road. This put Quin well down the order but also affected Gibson, who was given a drive-through penalty.
Meanwhile Tom Alexander was clawing his way back toward leader McNee, drawing Blewett with him.
The gap from McNee was .869, then .565, then a mistake by McNee on the penultimate lap allowed Alexander and Blewett to close in on the ETEC car. The Blewett and Alexander cars were side by side, right behind McNee, but it was not to Alexander’s advantage. Blewett slid his car past into second place, Alexander dropped back and Blewett then closed up on McNee on the final lap. In a thrilling finish, he swept past McNee at the back straight deviation to lead and win.
Blewett also posted fastest lap of the race, a 1:15.186, just outside the category lap rec ord of 1:15.159. The podium positions were Blewett, McNee and Alexander; Cory Holmes took an excellent fourth place and Callum Quin was fifth after Gibson’s drive through had been added to his finish time.