Late charge secures pole position for Clay Osborne

Clay Taupo pole (940 x 450)

A late charge in qualifying was enough to secure Clay Osborne pole position for the first race of the fourth round of the 2023 Toyota 86 Championship at Taupo International Motorsport Park this morning.

A fascinating 20 minute qualifying session saw a change of the order amongst the series pace setters with Ayrton Hodson turning heads in second place and Rylan Gray and William Exton locking out the second row.

Championship leader Brock Gilchrist had a poor session by his lofty 2023 standards, languishing at the lower end of the top ten until he delivered his best time on his last flying lap. It was very quick, but only good enough for fifth place on the grid.

Brock had set the bar initially with his first fast lap of the session but that was obviously going to be under threat given the pace of his rivals and the fact that the top 12 runners were covered by under a second for most of the session.

At the halfway mark most were wondering what was going on with Rylan Gray at the top ahead of Clay Osborne, Hodson and Fynn Osborne all ahead of the championship leader.

With 13 minutes of the session completed Clay was first under the 1 minute 46 barrier to go quickest on 1 minute 45. 971 seconds. And moments later brother Fynn popped up in second place making it the first time that brothers had topped any timed session – even briefly - in the history of the Toyota 86 category.

It was too good to last however and as the clock ticked down on the session the times began to tumble with Exton, Christina Orr-West and John Penny all featuring near the top before Gilchrist made his presence felt with third fastest time.

Clay Osborne however, was not to be denied and left the mark at a blistering 1 minute 44.946 seconds, good enough for pole position and also good enough to be three tenths of a second up on the chasing pack.

Behind the top five Justin Allen also left his charge late for sixth on the grid, while Penny and Orr-West will make it an all-Masters fourth row for the first race. Dion Pitt and Tom Bewley complete the top ten for what should be a fascinating race on Saturday afternoon.

Clay Richards – grandson of Jim Richards and son of Steven Richards- showed well in his first qualifying session at Taupo and in the Toyota 86 category, taking 12th fastest time in qualifying.


2023 Toyota 86 Championship – Round 4 Taupo Motorsport Park - Qualifying

1 Clay Osborne

2 Ayrton Hodson (R)

3 Rylan Gray (R)

4 William Exton (R)

5 Brock Gilchrist

6 Justin Allen

7 John Penny (M)

8 Christina Orr-West (M) R)

9 Dion Pitt

10 Tom Bewley (R)

11 Fynn Osborne

12 Clay Richards

13 Tayler Bryant (R)

14 Harry Townshend (R)

15 Saxon Sheehan (R)

16 Thomas Mallard (R)

17 Tim Leach

18 William Morton

19 Sam Cotterill