Vital win gives Bewley Toyota 86 championship lead with one race to go

| Photographer Credit: Bruce Jenkins

A vital victory in the reverse grid second race put Tom Bewley back on track at the final round of the 2023-2024 Toyota 86 Championship at Taupo this afternoon – his win putting him back at the top of the points table with just one race to go.

“That’s certainly the most important win of the season so far for me especially after this morning,” said a delighted Bewley afterwards. “I don’t know where I’ll start in the final race but it was great to win this afternoon.”

Alice Buckley revelled in the conditions to take her first podium with second place and a fine drive in the rain shortened race also saw Hunter Robb come through the field to take another podium spot in third and with it the season’s Rookie Championship.

Pole position holder Will Morton stalled on the line and allowed Bewley alongside a clean getaway and unopposed run to the first corner and he held a comfortable lead behind. Buckley made a great start in the awful conditions to splash her way out of turn one in a fine second place, impressive given she had been forced to swerve sharply around Morton as the lights went out.

Behind the leaders it was all drama over the course of the first couple of laps with Tayler Bryant spinning in the first lap, and Ryan Denize and Noel Simpson making contact too. With action all the way round the first and second laps, other notables early on were Robb, Race 1 winner Jackson Rooney and series leader William Exton.

As the conditions worsened, however, both Rooney and Exton had wild rides off-track pushing them down the running order. Robb, meanwhile, kept his head and made good progress, passing Justin Allen for third before setting off after Buckley.

The weather got even worse as the race completed four of its scheduled eight laps but over the next two laps enough cars went off the circuit – including a spin for Harry Townshend and another off-track excursion for Ryan Denize, that the officials brought out the Safety Car. But with conditions deteriorating all the time – any chance of resuming the race in the last couple of laps disappeared with the remaining breaks in the cloud and they crossed the line to take the flag behind the Safety Car.

That meant it was Bewley who took perhaps the most important win of his season so far. Buckley excelled to take second and become only the second woman to climb a Toyota 86 Championship podium and Hunter Robb deservedly took the Rookie title with a fine sprint through the early laps to take third.

Fourth was Allen – always a safe pair of hands in the wet – with Hayden Bakkerus again in the thick of the action in fifth. Exton salvaged sixth, with Master Class winner John Penny seventh. Townshend came home in eighth and rounding out a soggy top ten were Ben Stewart in his one-off appearance in the championship and Christina Orr-West.

Further back, Bryant recovered well to get back to 12th ahead of Breanna Morris and Summer Rintoule – who both stayed out of trouble, but Lockie Bloxsom spun away his chances of a great result and could only manage 15th.

2023-2024 Toyota 86 Championship – Round 6 – Taupo – Race 2

14Tom BewleyMackenzie Motorsport
23Alice BuckleyRace Lab Drivers Academy
369Hunter RobbAction Motorsport
499Justin AllenAllen Racing Team
520Hayden BakkerusMacKenzie Motorsport
642William ExtonRace Lab Drivers Academy
722John PennyAction Motorsport
873Harry TownshendBayswater Motorsport
933Ben StewartBen Stewart Racing
1055Christina Orr-WestDayle ITM Racing
1181Cormac MurphyRace Lab Drivers Academy
1275Tayler BryantAction Motorsport
135Breanna MorrisDayle ITM Racing
1487Summer RintouleAction Motorsport
1523Lockie BloxsomiMac Race Engineering
1611William MortoniMac Race Engineering
1757Saxon SheehanDayle ITM Racing
1830Jackson RooneyRace Lab Drivers Academy
1988Noel SimpsonAction Motorsport
2050Ryan DenizeMacKenzie Motorsport
DNS8Thomas MallardCrème Racing

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