Allan makes it three new TR86 race winners at Taupo
Hugo Allan became the third winner for the weekend after dominating the final race of the fifth round of the Toyota 86 Championship.
With Zac Stichbury winning Saturday’s race and Marco Giltrap coming out on top on Sunday morning, it was the first time in the category’s history that three different drivers took their debut wins over the same race weekend.
In the race for the championship, a solid fourth place in the race edged out Rowan Shepherd’s advantage over Simon Evans even further, whilst third place in the race and a string weekend result pushed Marco Giltrap into third place in the championship hunt ahead of Justin Allen, who endured another nightmare race.
For Heart of Racing driver Allan, Sunday’s victory marked one year since he made his first appearance in the championship. It was an emphatic win too. From the start of the race he took the lead from pole position and raced away from the chasing pack at a rate of almost one and a half seconds a lap. When Ronan Murphy passed Marco Giltrap for second and set about hunting down Allan, Hugo was four and a half seconds ahead. He said consistency was the key to his dominant performance.
“I am pretty stoked, especially after yesterday when we knew we had a very fast car after qualifying,” he said. “Crossing the line in first and top rookie is pretty cool.
“I don’t think we had a great car at the start or end of the race it was just solid for the whole race and the guys at International Motorsport did a great job in giving me a car like that. The tyre pressures, the set-up, everything has been spot on this weekend and it’s great that it all came together for a win.
“I was a bit worried about Ronan at the end, you always are when you are defending a lead, but I’ve been in this situation before in SIM racing. It’s all about managing the gap and doing what you have to do to stay in control.”
Murphy put in his best showing of the year and was happy to finally have something to show in a season where he has always been fast, but also incredibly unlucky and blighted by mechanical issues.
“I’m definitely relieved more than anything, we are back to having a car which has a great baseline speed. We showed that in practice and testing. I think I showed that pace when I got past Marco, but Hugo really had a big lead by then and I couldn’t quite catch him, even though I tried.”
Murphy reduced the gap from over four and a half seconds to around three at the flag. Marco Giltrap capped his best weekend in the championship with another podium. It was a significant result. Justin Allen started from the pit lane and retired with mechanical issues, and Giltrap has not only passed him in the points table, he also has a mathematical chance of the title at the final weekend at Hampton Downs at the end of next month.
In a weekend where none of the top three points scorers heading to Taupo featured on the top step of the podium, it was more about damage limitation in their fight for the title. Rowan Shepherd came out best and harried Giltrap all the way to the flag to take fourth place. He didn’t try too hard, however, possibly mindful that Simon Evans was a few places back and poor Justin Allen only completed half a lap from a pit lane start before retiring. It means Shepherd heads to the final round with an increased points lead overall.
Behind the top four, Dion Pitt put in another solid drive in a very busy midfield pack to claim fifth, while Zac Stichbury – one of the pace setters of the weekend – carved his way up from a low starting position to sixth.
Matthew McCutcheon survived some fantastic battles in the top ten to take seventh, while Evans moved from eleventh on the grid to eighth in the race – pretty much all he could do in an extremely competitive and hard-fought race. Brock Gilchrist and Masters’ winner Penny completed the top ten. Allan’s win also moves him into the lead on the Rookie points table ahead of McCutcheon.