Jordan Baldwin - Rookie of the Year in the Toyota 86 Championship last season and third in the points heading to the fourth round at Teretonga Park – has laid down a strong challenge for the title after taking two victories and the round win in Invercargill.
He now moves to the head of the championship points table in his Intermach NZ/Carters Tyres car with two rounds to go.
Jaden Ransley in the Miles Toyota car picked up a costly penalty in the second race but maintained second in the title chase nonetheless. Previous series leader Callum Hedge dropped to third after a challenging weekend in the CareVets Scholarship car.
Baldwin was on top form in the races from the very start. After out-dragging pole position man Ransley in Race 1 he got his nose out front and was never headed leading after a red flag caused by Mitch Hughes and Connor Davison having contact and sending Hughes Gilpin car heavily into the barriers. Try as he might Ransley could not find a way past Baldwin in the treacherous conditions.
The race was a disaster for the CareVets team, with Arran Crighton having no pace and Hedge suffering his worst result of the season so far after an engine blow up in qualifying and the subsequent change left him, too, towards the rear of the field. Ransley eventually finished second and Justin Allen in the Battery Town car, gaining a reputation as a very good driver in the wet, took his best result of the championship with a third place. It was the start of a solid weekend for Allen who was always in the front bunch and subsequently made some good progress in the championship table to improve to 12th. Jacob Cranston also did well in Race 1, taking fourth and his best result so far in the championship after a lightning start.
Race 2 on Sunday morning brought win number two for Baldwin as he stamped his mark on the meeting, but it only came after a penalty to on-the-road winner Jaden Ransley.
After losing out to Baldwin on Saturday, Ransley led the 15-lap race from start to finish but stewards awarded him a five second penalty for moving early as the red lights went out and he was ultimately demoted to third. Despite that, he still managed to close the points gap to championship leader Hedge, who finished behind him in fourth. Baldwin and Peter Vodanovich in the CMC Markets car enjoyed a fierce battle over the final handful of laps. In the end Jordan held on to beat him by a mere tenth and a half. That proved to be a vital defence when Ransley's time penalty confirmed it meant race win number two for Baldwin rather than second position.
Ransley took his revenge in the third race on Sunday with a dominant win - his victory of over six seconds the biggest margin in the championship this season so far. But it wasn't enough to deny Baldwin the round with Jordan claiming the runner up spot to back up his two wins.
The weekend's results changed the look of the championship points table, with Baldwin benefitting the most from both his great form and Hedge's woes. Brock Gilchrist had his best weekend in the championship as well and capped it off with a third place in the final race which moved him up to sixth overall.
Next stop in New Zealand motorsport's most competitive championship series is the New Zealand Grand Prix meeting, the penultimate round of the championship at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon over the weekend of February 8th and 9th.
2018-2019 Toyota 86 Championship - Points after Round 4
1. Jordan Baldwin 735
2. Jaden Ransley 722
3. Callum Hedge 712
4. Peter Vodanovich 603
5. Connor Adam 578
6. Brock Gilchrist 543
7. Arran Crighton 484
8. Jacob Cranston 445
9. Kaleb Ngatoa 430
10. Campbell Stewart 391
11. Sam Wright 370
12. Justin Allen 350
13. Connor Davison 336
14. Mitch Hughes 215
15. Andrew Jackson 193
16. Leo Bult 164
17. Jake Klein 143
18. Tony Austin 102