Peter perfect dominates final Teretonga race
Nobody could touch Peter Vodanovich in the final race of the weekend for the drivers in the third round of the Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship.
The NEXEN DTM-backed driver made the perfect getaway from the front row to beat pole position holder and Race 1 and Race 2 winner Jaylyn Robotham in the Eastern Performance car to dive into the first corner in the lead. For three quarters of the 20 lap encounter he defended a small lead before stamping his authority on the race to win by almost one and a half seconds.
Robotham had to be satisfied with second place in the race, but the round win with two firsts and a second propelled him to the top of the points after three rounds of the championship.
In the first two races it had been Robotham who won the drag race to the first corner but this time it was Vodanovich who made the best start and rocketed into the first turn ahead, and that marked the first time the Aussie had been led on the track all weekend. As the first lap came to a close after a clean start and the usual mid field jostling, it was Vodanovich in the lead from Robotham, Jaden Ransley for Miles Toyota, Campbell Stewart in the Total Oil car, Connor Adam in the Post Haste machine, Brock Gilchrist's NEXUS Logistics Toyota 86, Australian-based English ace James Wilkins, Brayden Phillips for Carters Tyre Services, CareVets' Ryan Wood, who'd run wide on the first lap in turn 3 and Justin Allen for Battery Town holding down the top ten places.
As with the previous weekend's races, the first five quickly bunched up slipstreaming the leader in a game of cat and mouse as each tried to force a mistake from the man in front. And it was the same behind in the battle for sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth. Richard Peasey had nipped by Allen on the second lap and was pushing hard to get himself involved in that battle too.
At the front, Vodanovich continued to lead Robotham, but the man with pace in the early laps was Ransley. Vodanovich was lapping a couple of tenths down on that pace and both Ransley and Robotham quickly started to fill Peter's mirrors. Peter defended well and protected himself down Teretonga's long straight by continually exiting the final corner well, but by the end of turn one each time around the charging challengers were always right on his tail. Both Stewart in fourth and Adam in fifth were hanging on gamely as the battle at the front continued to rage.
By the start of lap seven, Vodanovich was into his stride and seemed to be more comfortable in defence, maintaining a gap to the cars behind of a car length or two, just enough to hold off Robotham, who in turn had his mirrors full of the charging Ransley. On the same lap, Ryan Wood moved up to sixth. The action in that battle pack of himself, Wilkins, Phillips and Peasey was every bit as enjoyable as the one at the front.
The front pack remained static until lap 11 when Stewart got a slow exit out of the last corner promoting Adam to fourth and putting himself in the cross hairs of Brock Gilchrist in sixth.
Vodanovich meanwhile was stamping his authority on the race and by lap 14 had built a lead of over a second, a huge margin by the standards of the front runners in the previous two races of the weekend. It was also obvious Robotham was struggling to keep up with Peter's pace, with Ransley was looking to his left and his right with every opportunity as he tried to pressure his rival into an error.
Jaylyn kept his cool however and consolidated his second place over the final few laps, keeping a watching brief both in front and behind as the top guns settled for a more sedate finish to the race than in their first two encounters.
Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship - Round 3 - Teretonga Park - Race 3
- Peter Vodanovich, Peter Vodanovich Motorsport
- Jaylyn Robotham, Eastern Performance Centre
- Jaden Ransley, Miles Toyota
- Connor Adam, Poste Haste
- Campbell Stewart, Total Oil
- Brock Gilchrist, NEXUS Logistics
- Ryan Wood, CareVets
- James Wilkins, Kaizen Racing/That English Bloke
- Brayden Phillips, Carters Tyre Service
- Richard Peasey, Toyota GAZOO Racing New Zealand
- Justin Allen, Battery Town
- Andrew Jackson, Northshore Toyota
- Todd Foster, Post Haste
- Leo Bult, North Western Toyota
- Tayler Bryant, Brian Roberts Paint/CareVets