Toyota Finance 86 Championship leader Jamie McNee sprinted from a start position of fifth to lead and win the first race for the TR 86 cars at Taupo today, adding a handy 75 points to his championship lead.
Ashley Blewett had started off pole with Tom Alexander alongside and the pair went side by side into the first corner with Andy Waite close behind.
McNee chased the leading bunch down and joined the fray, then when Waite was forced wide at turn one McNee went through to do battle for the lead.
The lead changed twice before McNee was able to settle into a rhythm but the Wellington driver’s lead was never secure, with Blewett and Alexander chasing him hard all the way to the chequered flag. In the closing laps the chicane at the end of the longest straight proved critical, with the leading three going into the left-right sequence in a ‘draft’ and each attempting to outbrake the other. McNee on one lap found himself going too fast to rurn and took to the escape road, regaining the track across the grass and holding onto his lead.
Lap after lap all the eay to the chequered flag the leading trio stayed nose to tail in their multi-car ‘draft’ down the long straight, leaving Matt Gibson and Callum Quin more than five seconds adrift and fighting over fourth, a contest that was resolved in Quin’s favour.
Tom Alexander set a new race lap record with a time of 1:42.662 on lap five. Andy Waite did not finish, pitting with mechanical damage.
Schoolboy kart racer Marcus Armstrong made a cautious start to his one-make racing campaign, qualifying seventh and finishing sixth in the first race, one place ahead of the championship’s other new recruit John Lovich.
The TR 86 cars return to the track tomorrow for a morning race at 10am New Zealand Daylight Saving Time of 8 laps with a partial reverse grid to be decided by marble draw and the afternoon’s ten lap race at 1.10 pm NZDST. The 10 lap race has a grid decided by the second fastest time set by each competitor in qualifying.