Aussie ace Robotham conquers Pukekohe at first attempt
Australian Jaylyn Robotham took out the first round of the Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship in style over the weekend at Pukekohe Park – the youngster taking two wins and a second-place on his first visit to the circuit.
Less than a week after the conclusion of the Australian Toyota 86 Championship, where he finished sixth overall, Robotham was on a plane to New Zealand to race as a late entry in the New Zealand series, and his debut couldn’t have been more impressive.
“Yes, for sure it’s gone really well over the weekend considering it all came together so late,” he explained. “I’ve not actually done any simulator work around the track, but I have watched the Supercars race around here so just tried to learn the circuit as quickly as possible in Friday practice.
“There’s plenty of tough competition out there and I’ve got to remember that for me it’s going to be all-new circuits in this championship but I’m definitely very happy to have taken two wins and a round win.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Aussie over the two days of action, however. Experienced Kiwi Jaden Ransley in the Miles Toyota 86 showed he will be a major threat in the championship this season with pole position in qualifying and a win in the first race on Saturday. Along with Peter Vodanovich in the Nexen Chargers supported car, and Brock Gilchrist in the Nexus Logistics entry, the trio led the attack against the Aussie invader on Sunday and proved it’s going to be a very closely fought championship.
A field of 17 of the best up and coming young drivers from New Zealand and Australia headed out for first practice and sixteen made it through, providing great racing all the way. The only casualty was newcomer Todd Foster in his International Motorsport run car, who crashed in qualifying and was forced out of the racing action for the rest of the weekend.
Whilst Robotham shone, there were mixed fortunes for the two other racers out of the Australian series making the trip across the Tasman – Richard Peasey and James Wilkins. Peasey gradually made his way to the front of the midfield and was part of an epic battle in the final race, which gave him fifth and his best result of the weekend. Wilkins struggled initially but gradually improved to become a top ten contender by Sunday afternoon.
Of the rest of the Kiwi contenders, Campbell Stewart showed he has made a significant step forward in his second season of Toyota 86 racing, being a factor in the three races in the main chasing packs behind the big guns, while Justin Allen, Connor Adam, Connor Davison, Andrew Jackson and Leo Bult all had impressive moments.
The championship now heads to the South Island for rounds at Highlands Motorsport Park and Invercargill’s Teretonga Park. It then moves to the North Island for the New Zealand Grand Prix meeting at Manfeild – Circuit Chris Amon and then onto Hampton Downs before concluding with a non-championship race weekend at the Virgin Australia Supercars event at Pukekohe Park in April.