Bryant and Gaunt win again to take title
Tayler Bryant and Daniel Gaunt have won the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing TR86 Endurance Championship after winning the second one hour endurance race at Pukekohe Park.
That gave them three wins from the four races and comfortable victory in the race for the title.
In the early stages of the race Bryant kept the car in the hunt saving a bit of fuel and running in the top six. A mega fast pit stop and changeover to Gaunt was the key to victory once again for the MTF Finance Car.
As the pits stops unfolded, Gaunt emerged in second place behind Mark Mallard who had taken over from racer leading Peter Vodanovich and the speed and pressure from the two time New Zealand Grand Prix winner was just a little too much for the TR86 newcomer.
Once past, Gaunt moved away to establish a consistent two second lead from second placed Simon Evans, who had fought hard to catch both Gaunt and Mallard after his pit stop but just didn’t have enough pace to close the gap on the flying Gaunt.
Evans team mate Marco Giltrap was one of the stars of the race, taking the lead from Alexandra Whitley in the early stages and keeping a close bunch of five cars at bay until Vodanovich swept by to take the lead. The sprint champion was flying late into his stint as he tried to build a buffer just before the pit stop window opened.
Ronan Murphy had also looked strong in the first stages of the race, rising quickly to second before a move on Whitley that left some damage on his car and cost him around 15 seconds. He accepted responsibility but the car wasn’t the same after the contact. Running repairs at the pit stop made little difference and Chris van der Drift was unable to make any real inroads into the leading group.
At the one hour mark, and having finished the race with a sequence of super-fast laps it was Gaunt who took the chequered flag and the championship for him and Bryant. Evans completed a great race for him and Marco Giltrap while Heimgartner showed his class to catch and pass Mallard in the closing stages, getting himself and Whitley onto the podium, a great reward after a frustrating race on Saturday.
Mallard and Vodanovich held on for a solid fourth, with Billy Frazer taking fifth after a quiet race with Connor Adam. Christina Orr-West and Rowan Shepherd came home sixth with the recovering Murphy and van der Drift car in seventh.
Brock Gilchrist and Alistair Wootten completed the field, after a frustrating run ruined with technical issues that left Wootten with a problematic car and Gilchrist an impossible task in the second half of the race.