Multiple motorsport champion Simon Evans put his experience to good use in the second race of the weekend at Pukekohe in the Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship, racing through from eighth place on the grid to take a comfortable win.
Fellow championship contenders Ryan Wood and Rowan Shepherd could nothing about Evans’ speed or lead in the Wet & Forget TR86 as they came from ninth and tenth on the grid to finish second and fourth.
The result closed up the points table even further and also brought rookie Marco Giltrap his first podium in the championship in his Lexus-backed car.
The reverse top ten grid saw Alexandra Whitley win the drag race into the first turn for Tony Richards Toyota from Mark Mallard in his Creme Insurance car. Brock Gilchrist had made a good start from the second row of the grid and was quickly past Mallard and onto the rear bumper of Whitley’s car.
Eager to secure an elusive first win in the championship, the CareVets racer tried to take the lead through turn four but the two made contact. With their momentum lost, there was a huge opportunity for those behind. Orr-West went one way and Evans went the other and as the field raced into turn five it was Evans who emerged from the confusion to take the lead ahead of Orr-West, Gilchrist and Whitley.
Further back, championship contenders Ryan Wood and Rowan Shepherd were also making progress from the fifth row of the grid and at the halfway mark, after plenty of action, it was Evans from Orr-West followed by Gilchrist, Giltrap, Whitley, Wood, Shepherd, Murphy, Penny and Mallard.
The next major change took place on the seventh lap when Gilchrist and Giltrap fought past Orr-West to take second and third. There was little they could do about the flying Evans who was three seconds up the road and their attention shifted into a more defensive role as Wood and Shepherd loomed large in their mirrors.
There was no stopping the morning race winner, however, and the Wholesale Cars Direct TR86 was soon by Whitley before making short work of both Gilchrist and Giltrap to move up to second on lap eight. At this stage Shepherd was still down in fifth.
As the laps counted down he briefly found his way to third before Marco repassed the championship leader on the final lap to take third by less than two tenths for the final spot on the podium – his first in an impressive first season in the category.
Gilchrist ended up fifth after an up and down race while Whitley managed to come out in front in the battle for the minor placings with Ronan Murphy, Orr-West, Mallard and Todd Foster rounding out the top ten after a frenetic race.