Wellington racer Jamie McNee has won the 2013-2014 Toyota Finance 86 Championship with a gritty drive at the final round, held over two days at Hampton Downs in the north Waikato.
McNee took pole in qualifying, won the first race on Saturday and finished second to rival Ashley Blewett in the second and completed the first day with a 147 point lead in the championship – tantalisingly close to an unassailable advantage. Callum Quin had come through to second on points after the two races.
McNee then had a nervous overnight wait to settle the title fight, with second place in the first race on Sunday handing him the championship until a technical issue saw him dropped from the results. John Lovich crashed out of that race on the seventh lap, bringing out the safety car and the race finished under the control of the safety car, Ash Blewett winning under the yellow flag with McNee second on the road.
With Quin finishing fourth in that race, McNee’s championship was confirmed.
In the final race of the weekend McNee started from fifth on the grid and shot through to third on lap one. Pole man Blewett powered into the lead while Tom Alexander in P2 had what he admits is his worst start of the championship and was swamped by the field, ending up among the rear of the grid.
Alexander then set about a spirited fight back through the field with some daring passing moves putting him once more in sight of a podium finish.
In the meantime McNee got as high as second and was chasing down leader Ash Blewett when he came under challenge from Tom Alexander. Defending second place cost McNee his focus on chasing down Blewett and allowed the leader to extend his advantage out to three seconds.
Alexander attacked McNee’s position lap after lap until he overtook the championship leader and took over second place. McNee then fought back and retook second on the last lap of the race. Alexander, relegated to third, had the satisfaction of setting fastest lap of the last race of the championship, a 1:14.343.