Ransley cruises to race-three win, Hedge carves through to fourth
The final race of the weekend around Teretonga Park for the Toyota 86 Championship was a race of extremes. The battle for first a straightforward one, while the dicing further down the order was anything but.
In the end Jaden Ransley took the win comfortably, with more than six seconds in hand over race one and race two winner Jordan Baldwin. The fight for third was much more complex but in the end it was claimed by series rookie Brock Gilchrist. It was the NEXUS Logistics driver's first podium finish of the season and was hard-earned by fending off a charging Callum Hedge in the dying moments.
Baldwin started the race from pole with Ransley, Peter Vodanovich and Justin Allen completing the front two rows of the grid. Ransley got a good start to lead Baldwin, while Allen took third from Vodanovich and a hungry Brock Gilchrist with some paint being exchanged in the process. Further back championship leader Callum Hedge started from seventh and endured a frantic first few laps, first fading from his starting slot and battling with Campbell Stewart before finding some pace and passing Kaleb Ngatoa to put himself seventh. Allen was yo-yo-ing too, losing spots to Vodanovich and Gilchrist in the early laps after initially fending both off.
Apart from Ransley and Baldwin, who were racing away in first and second, Hedge was the driver to watch. After driving away from Ngatoa, he pulled a gutsy move on Jacob Cranston for sixth place up the inside at Castrol corner. He then set off to try and catch Allen in fifth — performing exactly the same move on him as he had on Cranston. From there he set off after Vodanovich and Gilchrist.
The other big fight that was unfolding was over eighth, as Ngatoa tried to fend off Campbell and Arran Crighton. As the field started lap 11 the trio were nose to tail, separated by inches. It was at this point that a small shower arrived at the circuit to further mix up proceedings.
Gilchrist managed to pass Vodanovich on lap 14, neatly sliding inside the CMC Markets driver at Castrol corner. This opened the door for Hedge to try something too. A lap later, he made a brave attempt around the outside of turns four and five and then eventually at the beginning of lap 16 Vodanovich made a mistake in the middle of turn one to allow Hedge by into fourth.
At the front and away from all the fighting was Ransley. His lead over Baldwin had grown to over six seconds, while Baldwin himself had four seconds in hand over Gilchrist. But Gilchrist wasn't safe from the fast-approaching Hedge. By the final lap, the pair were nose to tail but Gilchrist was able to hold off the pint-sized racer. Vodanovich completed the top five, while Cranston, Allen, Crighton, Ngatoa and Campbell rounded out the top 10. Missing from the leading bunch was Connor Adam who had problems of his own and had to take a trip to the pits for some running repairs. He ended up finishing at the tail of the field in 14th.
The series now takes a brief break before it travels to Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon on February 8–10, where the young grid will race alongside the New Zealand Grand Prix Castrol Toyota Racing Series finale.
2018-2019 Toyota 86 Championship Round 3 Teretonga Park Race 3 Result
1. Jaden Ransley - Miles Toyota/Kitchen Studio
2. Jordan Baldwin - Intermach NZ/Carters Tyres
3. Brock Gilchrist - NEXUS Logistics/Giltrap Group
4. Callum Hedge - CareVets NZ Ltd
5. Peter Vodanovich - CMC Markets/MacClure's ITM
6. Jacob Cranston - Best Bars/Vista Lite
7. Justin Allen - Battery Town/Thunder Adventure
8. Arran Crighton - CareVets NZ Ltd
9. Kaleb Ngatoa - JJ Wallers/Capture Sign
10. Campbell Stewart - NZPGS/Hydraulink
11. Sam Wright - Tony Richards Toyota/Premier
12. Andrew Jackson - North Shore Toyota
13. Connor Davison - Hampton Downs/Highlands Park
14. Connor Adam - Post Haste/Weigh Northland
DNS Mitch Hughes - Gilpin Cartage Contractors