Robotham aces Race 2 as Aussies strike back
Australian ace Jaylyn Robotham proved he's learned Pukekohe Park quickly with an impressive win second time out in the Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship.
"It's really great to win. I've had to get used to the new tyres and different braking package on these New Zealand cars, and there is plenty of strong competition behind me," he said.
It was Peter Vodanovich in the Peter Vodanovich Motorsport car who made the best getaway from the front row as pole position sitter Jaden Ransley had a small amount of wheel spin in his Miles Toyota 86 allowing Vodanovich to slip through and steal the inside line for the first turn. After overheating dramas hampered his race on Saturday, clear air was exactly what he needed and he made quick progress in gaining a couple of car lengths over the course of the first lap.
It didn't take long for Ransley in second and Robotham in the Eastern Automotive-supported car behind to close the gap and over the course of the first few laps the three enjoyed some classic nose to tail Toyota 86 racing.
Behind them there was an equally fierce battle for the other top ten positions with Connor Adam leading a pack that included Brock Gilchrist in the Nexus Logistics car, Ryan Wood in his CareVets 86, Campbell Stewart, Richard Peasey, Justin Allen and Leo Bult, hustling along nicely for Darkhorse Racing.
All eyes were on Ransley as the leaders swept through the start of lap four as he looked to make a challenge on the leader and that duly came at the Railway corner as he dived down the inside. The two rubbed doors and instantly Robotham was on them, getting his drive out of the corner perfectly timed and sling-shotting past the pair of them to take the lead. Ransley and Vodanovich continued side by side for the rest of the lap with Vodanovich eventually prevailing to settle into second position.
The top three remained largely locked together with Robotham holding a slight advantage, but on lap nine the youngster - mentored by experienced Kiwi racer Paul Manuell - dipped into the 1.17s and started to press home his advantage.
Ransley meanwhile, was filling Vodanovich's mirrors lap after lap and while Peter defended vigorously but fairly and manged to keep second, the net effect of the battle allowed Robotham to take a few extra car lengths advantage into the last few laps and he duly retained the lead to win. This was only his second race in New Zealand and it put down a marker that he will be a threat in what looks set to be a thrilling championship.
Behind the leaders, Ryan Wood made impressive progress through the pack in his first weekend of car racing after years at the sharp end of the karting field and battled his way up to fourth. His defensive skills were put to the test later on in the race when he had to fend off the approaching battle pack of Gilchrist, Adam, Stewart and Richard Peasey. Unfortunately for him, the in-form Brock Gilchrist and impressive Campbell Stewart both found a way through by the flag.
Adam, Peasey, Justin Allen and Leo Bult completed the top ten although a postrace five second penalty for Peasey saw Allen and him swap finishing positions in the final race results.
Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship Round 1 Pukekohe Race 2
1 Jaylyn Robotham, Jay Robotham Racing
2 Peter Vodanovich, Peter Vodanovich Motorsport
3 Jaden Ransley, Neale Motorsport
4 Brock Gilchrist, International Motorsport
5 Ryan Wood, Ryan Wood Motorsports/CareVets
6. Campbell Stewart, M2 Competition
7 Connor Adam, International Motorsport
8 Justin Allen, Allen Racing Team/IMS
9 Richard Peasey, Toyota GAZOO Racing New Zealand
10 Leo Bult, Darkhorse Racing
11 Andrew Jackson, Darkhorse Racing
12 Connor Davison, M2 Competition
13 Brayden Phillips, Phillips Motorsport
14 Tayler Bryant, CareVets Scholarship
15 James Wilkins, Kaizen Racing
16 Flynn Mullany, Tony Richards Toyota