Defending champion holds the lead

Published 23 January 2015

Wellington driver Jamie McNee had a frustrating weekend at Ruapuna in round three of the 2014-2015 Toyota Finance 86 Championship, but came away with a comfortable championship lead.

Marcus Armstrong stated his intention for the weekend by taking fastest time in qualifying, .2 seconds faster than Ash Blewett with Tom Alexander third and defending champion  McNee fourth.

Fresh into the championship for one round was Marcus Armstrong’s dad Rick, while 14 year old Australian driver is in for at least two rounds with a view to contesting Toyota Racing Series in coming years.

It was Armstrong’s weekend, with two race wins in a dominant performance from the Auckland City Toyota two-car team.

The other race win fell to Ash Blewett in his West City Motorsport car. In that race Marcus Armstrong was second, his team-mate Tom Alexander third.

McNee, 21, finished third for the round at Ruapuna on the weekend. He had struggled to get to grips with the circuit and arrive at a car setup that worked as well as that of key rivals.

“My car just wasn't handling the way I like it in the heat at Ruapuna, and no matter what we did we didn't seem to be able to get the setup right,” Jamie said. “The other drivers just seemed to have the edge on me this weekend.”

Though he had won a race at every round of the championship in its inaugural year, at the third round of this year’s championship he had to settle for two thirds and a fourth. He retains the championship lead with 557 points to second-placed Tom Alexander’s 533. Ash Blewett is third on 526.

Going into the fourth round, with another new circuit to test the field, fourth-placed Marcus Armstrong is absent from the field, his car being run by multiple Toyota Racing Series champion Nick Cassidy. That opens up fourth place to either Callum Quin or Matt Gibson.

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