Harker battles to race two victory
An elated Reid Harker has won race two of the 2016-2017 Toyota 86 Championship after twelve laps locked in battle with defending champion and race one winner Ash Blewett.
Harker was alongside pole man Jack Milligan for the start and made the better launch, taking the lead while Blewett was charging up from a start of sixth in the partial reverse grid.
Blewett said he was pleased to get clean overtaking opportunities as he headed up through the field.
“Everyone gave racing room and watched their mirrors, nobody was taking risks out there which was great,” he said afterward.
Once Blewett had carved through to second overall the lead pair cleared out on the field, leaving Michael Scott, Australian Will Brown, CareVets Racing drivers Jack Milligan and Ryan Yardley in a struggle for the remaining podium spot.
Harker was ecstatic afterward: "that was a real race. Ash is fantastic to race against, he runs so clean but so hard, he really had me working for the whole distance."
Driving the Aegis Oils/Washworld TR 86, Harker had no easy run to the flag. He spent the race watching his rearview mirrors and defending against repeated overtaking attempts by Blewett, the pair extending a lead of more than four seconds over the pursuing pack.
Blewett said he had tried at every opportunity to get alongside the Harker car, even getting the West City Motorsport/Mobil TR 86 up on two wheels through turns two and three (the ‘esses’) on one lap.
"It was a great duel that's for sure, fast and hard and clean. One of the best battles I have had. I went for it every time I had a chance," he said afterward.
The gap between Harker and Blewett at the flag was just .235 seconds.
Behind the flying pair the battle for third went Michael Scott's way, with pole man Jack Milligan next in the CareVets Racing 17 car, then Australian Will Brown and the second CareVets car of Ryan Yardley rounding out the top six with less than a second between each of the latter cars. Will Brown set the fastest lap of the race, a 1:15.222.
The race was not without incident, though all cars returned ot the pits without major damage. Mike Lightfoot spun in the esses and again at the hairpin (the latter when he selected second gear on the downshift instead of fourth); Miles Cockram spun at railway Corner, and Brody McConkey also went off at turn two going into the esses, spinning across the track in front of Ben MacDonald.
The Toyota Finance 86 Championship returns to the Pukekohe circuit at 1:25pm New Zealand daylight Saving Time for the third and final race of the weekend.