Allen hangs on for home Toyota 86 win
Justin Allen hung on to win his first race of the 2023-2024 Toyota 86 Championship after a fine performance in the second race at Manfeild – Circuit Chris Amon this morning.
Allen made the most of a front row start in the reverse top ten format grid and took the lead during a busy first lap. He then got his head down and for the first half of the race pulled away from a great battle behind. As the race wore on, William Exton emerged from the fight behind to gain dramatically on the leader in the last couple of laps.
William’s strong race finish wasn’t enough, however, and Allen edged home by just two tenths of a second in front of a decent sized and appreciative Manawatu crowd.
“It’s amazing to win at home,” said a beaming Allen afterwards, with his family there as usual to see the local ace win at home.
“We have shown we can be competitive again as a small family team. I tried to maintain a gap to William, that was the focus.
“I made one mistake other than that the car was good. The rain is coming this afternoon and I’ll be happy with that.”
The epic battles behind were numerous and exciting, with the pack behind the leader and the immediate group behind him often featuring two and three cars abreast through Manfeild’s unique sequence of infield corners.
Tom Bewley was a real star in the race, coming from tenth on the grid to fifth very early on then pushing hard throughout to grab a very notable third place at the end. He finished ahead Hunter Robb whose car was strong through the middle portion of the race before dropping off the ultimate pace towards the end. That allowed Jackson Rooney to close onto his tail by the end, but Hunter retained fourth at the flag,
Behind Rooney, it could have been a dream morning for Saxon Sheehan, who fought his way up to second place at one stage early on before contact with Bewley pushed him back down the order. Even so, his eventual sixth place was still his best result since he joined the category last season.
Alice Buckley enjoyed a fine race too, working her way through the field impressively and standing out strongly in the epic mid field battle. Seventh place was a solid result for the Australian Toyota 86 ace and proof she is getting stronger with each outing in the NZ specification car.
Saturday winner John Penny had a frustrating race, not able to make forward progress as much as the cars around him and eventually going off on the last lap after contact with another rising Australian star, Summer Rintoule.
Lockie Bloxsom made a strong start and featured early but fell back to an eventual eighth place, while Harry Townshend came home ninth. Hayden Bakkerus recovered well from an early off-track moment to finish tenth.