Penny shows his form against championship rivals

JP Manfeild test (940 x 450)

Different drivers topped each of Friday’s three practice sessions as Toyota 86 Championship action began at the penultimate round at Manfeild - Circuit Chris Amon today.

Veteran John Penny, championship contender Clay Osborne and championship leader Brock Gilchrist all took their turn at the top of the timesheets as the drivers cut their first laps of the weekend around the 3.03km circuit in dry but very windy conditions.

It was also a day of deleted lap times as drivers went to the circuit limits and beyond in their quest for a quick lap time.

Elder statesman Penny was on fire during the practice day, literally bouncing back from a spin into the tyres in the first session to record the fastest time at a circuit he knows like the back of his hand. He backed up that eye-catching performance with third in the second session and seventh in the final run.

‘JP’ finished ahead of Ayrton Hodson and Dion Pitt in the first session, Hodson continuing to improve and build on the excellent pace he showed at the last round in Taupo.

The day wasn’t plain sailing for championship leader Brock Gilchrist, endured a major clutch failure in his car and some brake problems. This ended running for him in the first session before he had recorded a representative time and left him very short of time in the second session.  

He recovered well in the third session to clock the fastest time, a couple of tenths up on main title challenger Clay Osborne. Osborne was on the pace on his first visit in a Toyota 86 to the Manawatu circuit, putting in the fourth best lap time in the first session before going fastest in the second session, just edging out fast rookie and Highlands race winner Tom Bewley.

Home favourite Justin Allen got his weekend off to a solid start with fifth in session one before he slipped down the order to 15th in the second practice session before clocking the sixth best time in Practice 3.  Having slipped from third to fourth in the championship standings, it’s a big weekend for the experienced local.

Dion Pitt – third in the points table – had a good day’s running with third, fifth and third in the three 20 minute sessions while Christina Orr-West also had a good day, the 2021 podium finisher at this circuit consistently in the top ten with seventh, sixth and eighth fastest session times during the day.

Qualifying for the first race takes place on Saturday morning and will also see the debut of Brooklyn Horan, scheduled to run at Taupo three weeks ago before illness intervened. The first race takes place on Saturday afternoon with two televised races on Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon.