Wood penalty gifts second straight win to Shepherd
Ryan Wood got his title challenge in the 2021 Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship back on track with a win on the road in the second race at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon this morning.
Unfortunately a post race penalty for exceeding track limits pushed him into second on the results and gifted Rowan Shepherd his second straight victory.
With a reverse top ten starting grid based on Saturday's results, it turned into a race of two halves following a Safety Car period just after half way in the 12 lap race.
At the first start Alexandra Whitley – starting from the front row - made a solid getaway and quickly established a lead but former championship leader Ryan Wood was not far behind after a challenging Saturday that included a spin out him in a decent starting spot for the reverse grid.
Wood in the Wholesale Cars Direct TR86 found a way past the Tony Richards Toyota car early on and moved out to a comfortable lead, with Saturday winner Rowan Shepherd the next to get past Whitley.
But that was how it settled and the three put a decent gap on the fierce battle pack behind which included Christina Orr-West, Marco Giltrap, Brock Gilchrist and Ronan Murphy.
Unfortunately for him, after a very strong showing on Saturday, Murphy went off going into turn one following earlier contact and buried his car in the gravel. That cost him any chance of another good result and brought out the Safety Car for two laps. It was to change the whole complexion of the race.
At the restart Shepherd attacked Wood immediately and found a way alongside. In another epic few moments that had a good sized crowd on their feet, Wood and Shepherd battled it out side by side until Wood eventually prevailed. From that moment he got his head down and raced away to an impressive win with Shepherd charging hard behind.
“Rowan was fast early,” said a delighted Wood afterwards. “I saw him coming so he must have got an awesome start. I’m pretty happy, the car pace is awesome. Yesterday was unfortunate, but that’s racing.”
The main beneficiary of the restart turned out to be Christina Orr-West (pictured above), continuing her huge improvement this weekend at Manfeild. Quickly into her stride after the restart, she passed Whitley for third and even caught up the two leaders over the course of the final two laps to secure her best result of the championship so far in third place for Dayle ITM Racing.
Behind the top three Brock Gilchrist had a solid race and plenty of side by side action on his way to fourth while Whitley survived a wild moment across the grass to secure a top five result. Justin Allen was next with Marc Giltrap just behind him. Championship leader Simon Evans was near the back of the pack before the Safety Car, but managed to claw his way into eighth for some valuable championship points, while Todd Foster and Tayler Bryant rounded out the top ten.
Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship Round 3 Manfeild Race 2
- Ryan Wood
- Rowan Shepherd
- Christina Orr-West
- Brock Gilchrist
- Alexandra Whitley
- Justin Allen
- Marco Giltrap
- Simon Evans
- Todd Foster
- Tayler Bryant
- Mark Mallard
12. Ronan Murphy