Exton looking strong for Christchurch weekend ahead

Will Exton Ruapuna (940 x 450)

William Exton emerged as a firm favourite for the weekend ahead at the third round of the Toyota 86 Championship with another impressive run in Friday testing at the Euromarque Motorsport Park today.

Thursday pace setter Exton was quickly into the groove in damp conditions in first practice and set the standard throughout, revelling in the conditions as the track dried out. After ten minutes of the session he was seven tenths ahead before Jackson Rooney finally managed to pop in a quicker lap. 

The two quickly lowered the bar but it was Blenheim’s Exton who ended fastest once again, with Rooney five hundredths behind and Tom Bewley putting in a late lap to go third fastest. Jaden Ransley – back for one weekend only – was fourth on his home track while Harry Townshend rounded out a competitive session in fifth place.

Championship leader Hunter Robb was seventh with Cormac Murphy popping up again in the top ten in eighth ahead of Manfeild Race 1 winner John Penny. Another promising rookie, Hayden Bakkerus, rounded out the top ten.

Australian Toyota 86 Scholarship champion Lockie Bloxsom and Toyota 86 veteran Christina Orr-West both shone in the early part of the session before falling back into the pack as the times tumbled.

Practice 2 brought a return to form for Robb who went quickest ahead of the ever-present Exton.

Ransley’s fine return to the championship continued with third place in the session with all pointers suggesting he’s going to be a fly in the ointment for the regular runners this weekend on a circuit he knows exceptionally well.

Tom Bewley proved he’s also going to be in the hunt across qualifying and three races over the weekend with fourth, and Harry Townshend’s solid form in testing and practice continued with the fifth fastest time. Behind him it was Bakkerus, Rooney, Ryan Denize, Bloxsom and Tim Leach.

It was all Exton again in the third and final session of the day, the youngster impressing again to pip Bewley by eight hundredths of a second with another lap in the 1 minute 38 second bracket. He was the only driver in the session to break 1 minute 39 seconds.

The form drivers filled the next few places with Robb, Rooney, Ransley next up and Tayler Bryant back in the hunt with sixth fastest time. Bloxsom was seventh while Manfeild Race 2 winner Justin Allen got his name in the top ten with eighth best lap. Bakkerus and rookie Brooklyn Horan completed the fastest ten.

Qualifying will take place on Saturday morning when all the pace setters from Thursday testing and Friday practice can be expected to go well. Race 1 will be on Saturday afternoon and will be a scratch grid formed on the best lap times from qualifying.