Auckland racer Ash Blewett’s charge toward the 2015-2016 Toyota Finance 86 championship title continued almost unchecked in the third round, held over the weekend.
Blewett took two wins and one second place to increase his points total to 667. He has now won eight of the nine races to date, and Te Puke’s Michael Scott is the only driver to have briefly broken Blewett’s stranglehold on the series.
Racing in the rain as others struggled for grip and vision, Scott won the first race, edging in front of Blewett as the championship leader fumbled his start. A three-car squeeze into the first corner ensued, with new entrant Jaxon Evans dashing up the other side of Blewett, but it was Scott who emerged in the lead and fought off a determined charge from Blewett to take his first win in the series.
It was the first full ‘wet’ race of the series and the first time many of the drivers had raced a TR 86 on the series’ Michelin wet tyres.
Blewett re-asserted his dominance in the second race, which featured a partial reverse grid of leading finishers from race one; he then took victory in the final race to move into a 130-point lead over championship front-runner and masters class leader John Penny. Callum Quin remains third on points, while rookie class leader Jacob Smith have moved up a place to be fourth outright in his first season contesting the championship.
New drivers competing at this round included the father-son pairing of Rick and Marcus Armstrong, Jaxon Evans, Jayden Dodge and Miles Cockram. Marcus Armstrong took over the Auckland City Toyota car used in the opening two rounds by talented kart and open-wheeler driver Matthew Hamilton, while Miles Cockram was in the number 11 car which won the championship last year.
With a record overall entry of 22 drivers, the third year of the Championship is shaping up to be the most fiercely contested yet. Racing now moves south to Invercargill for round four of seven, contested at the southernmost permanent circuit in the world, Teretonga.
Extremely fast when mastered, this 2.57 km circuit flows smoothly from the very high speed turn 1 in a series of left and right sweeping corners through to turn 5. The long front straight sees the cars reach the highest speeds of the championship. The lap record is held by current Japan Formula 3 champion Nick Cassidy, a 1:07.148 second time set in January 2015.