William Exton took out the weekend’s shortened feature race at the Euromarque Motorsport Park this afternoon, while Tom Bewley left Christchurch with a points lead in the championship.
The full-on race was more of a three-lap shootout after earlier stoppages, but there was plenty of action in those. At the end of it, Exton held off a mighty Jaden Ransley for the win, and Bewley salvaged third after a bad start.
“It was definitely challenging with all the Safety Cars, but I managed to get two decent restarts, and I was happy with that,” said Exton afterwards, the win moving him to third in the championship points behind Bewley and Hunter Robb.
“I was trying not to worry about people behind but I am very happy to win it.”
Exton started on pole position with Bewley alongside. Robb lined up third, with Ransley an impressive fourth on his one-weekend return at his home track.
Exton led comfortably as the field raced into the first turn, and behind the leader, Hunter Robb found himself on the outside with nowhere to go and ran across the outside on the dusty grass for a hundred metres or more before re-joining well down the order in 14th.
A clash later on the lap in a midfield traffic jam damaged John Penny’s car, and he was out on the spot.
That brought out the Safety Car for two laps, and as it got underway, it was Exton again as the cars surged up to five abreast towards the first turn. There wasn’t enough room for all, and several cars went off into the gravel.
Tayler Bryant ended up stuck fast along with Townshend, whose car was damaged and unable to continue. Summer Rintoule had a quick spin on the restart lap, too, and with two cars left in the gravel, there was no option but another Safety Car, quickly followed by a red flag to remove them. Fortunately, Bryant was able to resume at the back.
The race got back underway on Lap 6, and Exton backed them up before hitting the throttle and leading the field away. Ransley got a great start as the pack behind made a confused getaway, but as they completed the sixth and first flying lap, it was Exton, Ransley, Bewley, a fast-starting Brooklyn Horan, Jackson Rooney, Robb, Justin Allen, Alice Buckley, Thomas Mallard and Tim Leach.
That left just two laps when the race was shortened due to the delays, and Robb was on the move, getting past Rooney and setting off after Horan.
At the front, Ransley was piling the pressure on Exton and, into the last lap, was attacking for the lead at every corner, but William held on to take a win.
Ransley took second, Bewley third – a good recovery after his start, Horan an impressive personal best in fourth, Robb an important fifth, Allen sixth, Rooney seventh, Buckley a fine eighth, Leach a fine ninth and Cormac Murphy tenth. It all gave Exton the Overall round, Robb the Rookie honours and Christina Orr-West the Master class win.
2023-2024 Toyota 86 Championship – R3 Christchurch – Race 3