Racing from pole position, Auckland’s Ash Blewett has thrown down his challenge to the 15 other drivers in the 2015-2016 Toyota Finance 86 Championship with victory in race one at Pukekohe today.
Off the start, Blewett fought off a determined challenge from rookie Reid Harker of Albany. Harker stayed with Blewett into the fast first corner, then slotted onto the rear bumper of the West City Motorsport car of Blewett through the ‘esses’, into the railway corner and onto the long back straight.
With Callum Quin close behind, the leading three swept through the rest of the lap, down to the hairpin and then op and over the top of the hill onto the front straight. Speeding into the first turn of lap two disaster struck for Harker. His car slid sideways under power and left the track, hitting the infield fence with the front and rear corners and sliding to a halt. The crash brought out the safety car for two laps. Blewett said he didn’t see the crash and only knew that Harker had disappeared from his rear view mirrors
“It a very technical part of the track so I only saw him again when I came around behind the safety car. I’d been expecting to be racing Reid for eight laps, he’s a fast guy,” said Blewett.
Callum Quin in third place had a grandstand seat as the Harker car slid across the track in front of him. He said he was relieved to see Harker out of the car when the field came through on the next lap.
When the race resumed Blewett was defending his lead into the first turn from Callum Quin, but down the right side of both of them came John penny is a bold challenge for the lead.
“I had good drive and had just seen a way to get alongside those guys, could almost have grabbed the lead but there wasn’t enough room to go all the way safely,” said Penny.
The two CareVets Scholarship cars were locked in battle for fourth and fifth, Michael Scott locking up his brakes on the back straight as the closely packed field entered the chicane, then rejoining. His team-mate Ryan Yardley went past to hold fourth place.
But the race – and the opening points advantage – fell to Ash Blewett, who comfortably held off Quin and Penny. Blewett also posted fastest time of the race, a 1:15.310 on lap seven of the eight lap race.
The championship’s youngest driver, 15 year old Caleb Cross, was 11th overall, just behind veteran Kenny Smith.
The second race of the weekend is also over eight laps and takes place at 9.25 tomorrow morning (Sunday), with the grid being a partial reverse of the race one finish order with the top four places switched on marble draw. This puts Ryan Yardley on pole, John Penny on the front row alongside him, Callum Quin in P3 and race one winner Blewett in P4, starting directly behind Yardley.