Testing session brings drama for Blewett in Toyota series

| Photographer Credit: Bruce Jenkins

Championship leader Ash Blewett has struck problems in test sessions today for the Toyota Finance 86 Championship at Taupo’s Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park.

Blewett, dominant from the opening round in late 2015, has a commanding lead in the championship but struck brake problems on the sixth lap of the final session and went off, damaging his TR 86 race car. The incident happened at the fast turn onto the circuit’s long straight, and the car slid off the tarmac and hit the tyre wall.

The crash damaged the driver’s side of the car and his crew now face an extended session in the pit garages to get the car ready for qualifying and racing tomorrow. Once the damage is set right they must also determine the nature of the brake problem.

“The brakes didn’t lock up, I had no brake warning on the data system, but the pedal was full hard it the car didn’t slow down,” he said.

Blewett was able to extract the car from the tyre wall and pitted for a visual check before rejoining the session. Despite the crash, he also set fastest lap of the session, a 1:42.007 on lap four.

Cockerton quick in opening session

Meanwhile, Pukekohe driver Taylor Cockerton set the pace in the opening practice session. In his first full-field session in a TR 86 on the 3.33 km ‘international’ circuit at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Cockerton put in a 1:42.752 on a wet but drying track.

Second quickest and returning to the series was Jayden Dodge on 1:43.356, with another driver new to the series, Martin Short of Hamilton, was third on 1:43.507.

Masters category leader John Penny was fourth, while rookie leader Ryan Yardley was taking his time to familiarise himself with the track and began the day with a cautious ninth.

Jacob Smith was slowed by a front wheel bearing issue.

Yardley tops session two

In the second session, with the track fully dry and only a light breeze blowing, rookie leader Ryan Yardley surged to the front with a 1:41.417, having changed tyres on the Carevets TR 86.

Championship leader Ash Blewett was second quickest and the only other driver to break into the 1:14s.

Third quickest as the field settled into more predictable conditions was Taylor Cockerton.

The third and final session of the day belonged to Blewett, with John Penny just .002 behind and Carevets team driver Michael Scott third overall.

On-track action resumes with qualifying tomorrow at 10 am and the first of three races at 1.40 pm.

Mark Baker has been working in automotive PR and communications for more than two decades. For much longer than that he has been a motorsport journalist, photographer and competitor, witness to most of the most exciting and significant motorsport trends and events of the mid-late 20th Century. His earliest memories of motorsport were trips to races at Ohakea in the early 1960s, and later of annual summer pilgrimages to watch Shellsport racers and Mini 7s at Bay Park and winter sorties into forests around Kawerau and Rotorua to see the likes of Russell Brookes, Ari Vatanen and Mike Marshall ply their trade in group 4 Escorts. Together with Murray Taylor and TV producer/director Dave Hedge he has been responsible for helping to build New Zealand’s unique Toyota Racing Series into a globally recognized event brand under category managers Barrie and Louise Thomlinson. Now working for a variety of automotive and mainstream commercial clients, Mark has a unique perspective on recent motor racing history and the future career paths of our best and brightest young racers.

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