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Bewley holds on in Highlands Toyota 86 feature

Tom Bewley took a lights-to-flag victory in the feature race at Highlands Motorsport Park this afternoon, but he had to fight every inch of the way.

A sizeable crowd for Grand Prix day enjoyed a superb battle at the front of the field, but Bewley held off the challenge of William Exton and Hunter Robb to retake the championship lead – again – in the latest instalment of a thrilling season. Robb had to be satisfied with the round victory, but the race was all about Bewley.

“Hunter pushed me along but luckily Willy got him and that gave me some breathing room,” said Tom on the podium afterwards. “I did build a gap with a couple of laps to go and was able to relax just a little, but I also made a couple of mistakes after that which weren’t the best, so I’m very happy to get first.”

Pole position for the 12 lap feature belonged to Bewley, without question the fastest TR86 racer around the 4.1km Highlands track this weekend. Alongside him after his breakthrough weekend was Australian Lockie Bloxsom.

In a topsy turvy weekend off the track, Robb’s Saturday win – lost initially because of a technical infringement on camber – was reinstated and that was a big boost for Hunter as he lined up third on the grid as the championship points leader. Alongside him on the second row was in-form William Exton and behind them on the third row the ever-improving pair of Hayden Bakkerus and Cormac Murphy, both of whom had also shown they had plenty of speed around the Cromwell track.

Bewley bolted at the start and was a couple of car lengths ahead at the first chicane, while behind Robb fought his way through to second and set off after Bewley leaving Bloxsom, Exton and the rest in their tyre tracks behind.

Bewley was in full defensive mode as the field sped through to complete the first lap, Robb darting left and right looking for any way past. Bewley fought back and so did Bloxsom in third, leading a nose-to-tail train right back to ninth place.

At the end of the first couple of laps it was Bewley, Robb on his rear bumper, then Bloxsom, Exton, Hayden Bakkerus, Cormac Murphy, Alice Buckley, Tayler Bryant and the rest.

The top four remained nose-to-tail just ahead of Bakkerus and the second high speed train behind him.
At the front, Robb was throwing everything he had at the leader but Bewley remained steadfast, even as third and fourth placed joined the fight.

Exton took the opportunity on lap five to sneak past Bloxsom for third and then nabbed second from Robb with a beautiful late and precise move up the inside of Robb. Hunter regrouped and latched on to the back of Exton, but their battle had momentarily allowed Bewley to edge a few vital car lengths out front.

Of concern for Exton was an exhaust system that was loose under his car. It seemed to be having little or no negative effects on William’s speed, however, as he started to pressure Bewley. Behind the top three, Bloxsom started to lose ground and with five to go was in the sights of the impressive Bakkerus, who in turn had Murphy and Buckley close behind.

Bloxsom was dropping back at a rapid rate however, and both Bakkerus and Buckley found a way past into fourth and fifth. Alice was doing a fine job – impressing with her bravery and speed around the challenging and unforgiving track.

The flag couldn’t come soon enough for Bewley, but he took one of his best wins to date, as Exton and Robb gave chase behind for second and third. Buckley found her way past Bakkerus for her best result so far in the championship. A fine drive from the back by Jackson Rooney netted an impressive sixth, while Cormac Murphy was in the top ten again in seventh. Christina Orr-West took eighth and the round win in the Master class, with Tayler Bryant and Ryan Denize completing the top ten after passing the ailing Bloxsom late on.

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