Ryan Wood took his second win of the weekend in the third and final race of the Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship at Pukekohe Park this afternoon.
He took a lights to flag victory, racing away to win by over three seconds from his two closest championship rivals, Rowan Shepherd and Simon Evans.
With points from the first two races dictating the starting grid for the final race, it was Wood who started from pole position in the Wholesale Cars Direct TR86, with Evans alongside him on the front row in his Wet & Forget car and Shepherd and Marco Giltrap on the second row.
Wood made the best getaway from the grid and led into the first turn as the others streamed in cleanly behind for the 14 lapper. At the end of lap one it was Wood from Evans, Shepherd, Gilchrist, Giltrap, Ronan Murphy, Alexandra Whitley, Christina Orr-West and Mark Mallard.
Within a couple of laps the race became a six car train for the lead with under two seconds covering Wood back to Murphy. It didn’t take Ryan long to get into his stride, however, and by the start of the third lap Wood had managed to build a slight lead. Behind him it was game on with Evans’ mirrors absolutely full of chasing cars.
With five laps done Wood had a solid lead of just over two seconds from Evans, who had Shepherd glued to his rear bumper. Half a second further back was Giltrap, with Gilchrist alongside him and Murphy just a couple of tenths further back. Alexandra Whitley had battled her way into contention too, trailing Murphy by just fractions of a second as the race settled.
It only took a lap or so for the action to burst into life again as Shepherd dived down the inside of Evans at the first turn. The two raced through the high speed corner together towards turn two and it was Shepherd who wrestled second place from Evans as they emerged onto the back straight on lap seven.
With Wood long gone at the front, Shepherd had to concentrate on the train behind him, executing a more defensive strategy as he was unable to break the tow. That train was led by Evans, with Giltrap steaming along in fourth and Gilchrist and Murphy in hot pursuit behind. Whitley too, remained right in the battle.
On lap eight Giltrap fell behind Gilchrist and Murphy and allowed Whitley to have a look down the inside of turn one on the tenth lap. She couldn’t make the move stick but repeated it on the next lap and took sixth place. On the same lap she also passed Murphy to move into fifth. With two laps to go however, she fell back to ninth after a half spin at the hairpin.
Evans kept the pressure on Shepherd throughout the remaining laps, never more than a couple of tenths behind, but simply didn’t have enough outright pace to make a worthwhile attempt for second place.
Wood romped home to win in dominant style, almost four seconds ahead of Shepherd, with Evans a second or so further back in third, but still ahead of Gilchrist who ended up having a slightly lonely race on his way to fourth.
Murphy and Giltrap continued their fight through to the flag, with Murphy eventually taking his second top five result of the weekend. Giltrap was sixth after another string race while John Penny and Christina Orr-West enjoyed a race long battle for seventh and eighth. Whitley came home ninth, ahead of Tayler Bryant who bagged another top ten finish.