Toyota 86 title down to last race between Shepherd and Evans
A win for Simon Evans and a second place finish by Rowan Shepherd means the championship goes down to the wire in the final race of the season.
The gap between the two championship protagonists is 40 points heading into the afternoon's final race, with 75 available for a race win. The championship will go to one or the other with Marco Giltrap and Hugo Allan left to fight for third place overall.
Brock Gilchrist won on the road for CareVets but a post-race penalty for contact with pole position holder Christina Orr-West dropped him down to an eventual third place on the official results.
Gilchrist started alongside Orr-West on a grid based on a reverse of the top ten finishing order from Saturday and it was the CareVets Racing youngster who made the most of the opportunity, though he and Orr-West duked it out side by side for much of the first lap before Brock got his nose ahead. It was Gilchrist's first 'on the road win' in the championship but unfortunately his incident with Orr-West resulted in a five second penalty.
The interest in the championship lay with Evans and Shepherd’s progress however. Evans looked most in a hurry in the early stages of the race, quickly moving up to second place behind Gilchrist after a superb first lap. With a race car that looked far more nimble than on Saturday, Evans was able to keep the pressure on Gilchrist throughout.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Shepherd though. He fought through the field from eighth on the grid and raced for the majority of the 14 laps with Justin Allen right in his mirrors. He was also suffering from a bout of food poisoning from a 'dodgy' meal the night before. He was more relieved than anything to get through the race and only relinquish a handful of points to Evans before the last race.
Behind Allen, John Penny had a straightforward if lonely race to fifth place after an impressive opening charge while behind him young stars Hugo Allan and Marco Giltrap were nose to tail throughout, and it looked like Giltrap would get the verdict, but a few gearbox gremlins ultimately meant he finished behind both sixth place Allan and seventh place Orr-West.
It was a drama filled race for pole position sitter Orr-West too. After the contact in her first lap battle with Gilchrist dropped her to fifth at the end of the first lap, she fought hard throughout defending against Allan and Giltrap before they got by.
The experienced veteran was far from down however and as the two youngsters went head to head, she clawed her way back onto the tail of Allan despite some bodywork damage that wouldn't have helped her straight line speed. Seventh on the road was a solid result for the Dayle ITM racer after the intense mid field battle.
Todd Prujean drove a good race to come home ninth after 14 laps of mid field racing, while Fynn Osborne also thrived on the intensity in the pack and came home tenth. Chelsea Herbert looked odds on for strong result but gearbox dramas robbed her of what could have been seventh or eighth.
The championship will be decided in Sunday afternoon's feature race with a grid based on points scored in the first two races. Third will go to either Giltrap or Allan, with the Heart of Racing rookie having now put the Rookie title beyond reach of his opposition.
2022 Toyota 86 Championship – Round 6 Hampton Downs Motorsport Park – Race 2
|1||4||Simon EVANS||Giltrap Group Motorsport|
|2||1||Rowan SHEPHERD||Action Motorsport|
|3||10||Brock GILCHRIST||CareVets Racing|
|4||99||Justin ALLEN||International Motorsport|
|5||22||John PENNY||Action Motorsport|
|6||23||Hugo ALLAN||The Heart of Racing|
|7||55||Christina ORR WEST||Dayle ITM|
|8||84||Marco GILTRAP||Giltrap Group Motorsport|
|9||74||Todd PRUJEAN||Todd Prujean Motorsport|
|10||14||Fynn OSBORNE||James Marshall Motorsport|
|11||91||Ronan MURPHY||Action Motorsport|
|12||96||Matthew MCCUTCHEON||Action Motorsport|
|13||8||Mark MALLARD||Mark Mallard Racing|
|14||72||Zac STICHBURY||Mackenzie Motorsport|
|15||11||Will MORTON||iMac Race Engineering|
|16||52||Rianna O'MEARA-HUNT||The Heart of Racing|
|17||9||Sam COTTERILL||International Motorsport|
|18||15||Clay OSBORNE||James Marshall Motorsport|
|19||222||Todd FOSTER||International Motorsport|
|20||5||Dion PITT||Action Motorsport|
|21||25||Chelsea HERBERT||The Heart of Racing|