Toyota championship names its winners at Taupo

| Photographer Credit: Bruce Jenkins

In two final races at Taupo’s Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park today the drivers at the forefront of the Toyota Finance 86 Championship have nailed down outright and class victories.

Championship leader Ash Blewett won the overall title in the first race yesterday, leaving Callum Quin and John Penny locked in battle for second place and rookies Ryan Yardley and Jacob Smith to duel for that category.

Yardley became rookie champion in the first race today when Jacob Smith and Ash Blewett crashed out. Blewett’s car had suffered a brake issue for the second time in the weekend, and Smith was an unwilling participant as Blewett’s car left the track.

Yardley took his title in style, winning the race outright ahead of fellow rookies Jayden Dodge and Reid Harker. After that win, there was still a mathematical – outside – chance Yardley could be defeated if he failed to finish this afternoon’s 12 lap race and Jacob Smith won – but that was never to be.

Pole man Ash Blewett did not start the final race, the team unable to trace the brake fault that has plagued the number 66 car all weekend. That left the CareVets cars of Michael Scott and Ryan Yardley on P2 and P4 with Jacob Smith between them. Off the line, these three were bumper to bumper and mirror to mirror into the first turn, the CareVets cars emerging as a 1-2 but Smith quickly re-inserting himself into the battle and holding second.

Behind them Callum Quin was on a charge, leapfrogging through the field with John Penny in hot pursuit. The pair were determined to take the battle for second overall all the way to the chequered flag. Penny had finished the morning’s race ahead of Quin, meaning the pair entered the final race separated by just one point.

Quin eventually slipped past Jayden Dodge, putting Dodge between himself and John Penny to make sure of second in the championship and finishing the race fourth.

Out front it was Michael Scott’s turn to add to the Carevets team’s clutch of wins and podium finishes with his second win of the championship, one he richly deserved after forging through to the lead and then controlling the race from the front. Second was Jacob Smith, rebounding from the morning’s disappointment with a mature and gritty drive and holding out rival Ryan Yardley who at the flag was happy enough with third. Yardley also holds the new lap record for the category, set in Saturday’s race, of 1:41.401.

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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