Another win extends Simon Evans’ Toyota 86 series lead
Simon Evans capped a fine weekend at the Mike Pero Motorsport Park with his second win of the day in the Toyota 86 Championship, extending his points lead after two rounds of the 2022 title battle.
With the grid based on points accumulated over the weekend, it was an all Giltrap Racing front row for the ten lap race, with Simon Evans on pole position and Marco Giltrap alongside.
Track conditions had improved dramatically following the morning race with the circuit almost completely dry and Evans made the most of the conditions to make a clean getaway and lead into the first corner. Justin Allen also made a great start from the second row and emerged from turn one in second place ahead of Giltrap and another fast starter – Ronan Murphy – who was very quick away from the third row in the Pirtek car. Murphy was able to get himself ahead of champion Rowan Shepherd for a lap or so until Rowan found a way back past.
An early Safety Car when Clay Osborne stopped out on the infield made little difference to the status quo and Evans resumed in the lead from Allen. Murphy, however, was able to pass Shepherd to get himself back into fourth, while behind them another great TR86 battle was underway for the remaining places in the top ten with Zac Stichbury, Hugo Allan, Dion Pitt and Matthew McCutcheon all in the mix.
As the laps counted down, Evans was having it far from easy in the lead and coming under increasing pressure from a flying Justin Allen in the NAPA Autoparts Car. Continuing his fine form at the start of this season, Allen made a couple of big attacks – including two attempts on the last lap – but couldn’t quite find a way past Evans, a veteran of multiple race and championship wins and a master of defence.
As they crossed the line with barely a car length between them, it was Evans ahead with Allen second and Marco Giltrap just a few car lengths behind in third. Murphy was a fighting fourth which made up for some of the disappointment of losing his second place from the morning race, while Shepherd had to be content with a fifth place finish in what is turning out to be a very competitive championship battle.
Zac Stichbury looked like he would take sixth until a wild moment on the grass on the last lap dropped him to ninth. Dion Pitt made the most of that opportunity to finish sixth ahead of McCutcheon, Brock Gilchrist, Stichbury and top master John Penny but a post-race penalty pushed Dion down to 11th. Hugo Allan had been in that pack for much of the race but slowed dramatically before the line, relegating him back down to 16th.
Further back, Mark Mallard capped a good weekend in the Crѐme Insurance car with another noteworthy drive towards the front of the busy midfield pack and he ultimately took 14th. Christina Orr-West also put in an excellent drive after some dramas in the morning jumping from the back of the grid and getting into the midfield battle quickly before finishing 15th.
The championship now has a two week break before the third round – scheduled for the Hampton Downs Motorsport Park over the weekend of February 12-13.