He didn’t make it easy for himself, but Rowan Shepherd did enough to claim back-to-back Toyota 86 championships.
He is the first in category history to successfully defend a series crown.
Shepherd has been suffering from a bad belt of food poisoning today and was feeling far from his usual ways.
Even so, all he needed to do was finish ninth in Sunday’s finale. Doing that would earn him the championship no matter where his title challenger Simon Evans finished.
Starting alongside Evans on the front row, Shepherd soon stumbled down the pecking order.
At one stage, he was P9, putting his title aspirations under threat of being lost to Evans.
Eventually, Shepherd would gain two spots and take the chequered flag in P7, earning him the crown.
Evans won the race, fighting off a stubborn Hugo Allan for the victory. But the points margin back to Shepherd was too big to overcome.
Shepherd was visibly exhausted after the race. He struggled to muster the strength for a post-race comment, but you can sense his relief of winning a second series title.
His reward has him fly to Australia later this year for a test in a Triple Eight-prepared Supercar.
Evans and Allan had an enthralling duel for the win. Try as he might, Allan couldn’t muscle his way past, settling for second.
He still walks away with Rookie of the Year honours, seeing him jet off to Bathurst.
Third place in the race and championship is Marco Giltrap, rounding out a successful season that saw him earn a first career win at Taupo.
Master’s champion fell the way of John Penny, who finished the race in eighth.
- Simon Evans
- Hugo Allan
- Marco Giltrap
- Brock Gilchrist
- Justin Allen
- Christina Orr-West
- Rowan Shepherd
- John Penny
- Zac Stichbury
- Clay Osborne
- Matt McCutcheon
- Dion Pitt
- Ronan Murphy
- Chelsea Herbert
- Flynn Osborne
- Todd Prujean
- Sam Cotterill
- Will Morton
- Rianna O’Meara-Hunt
- Todd Foster
- Mark Mallard