Justin Allen back on form for Hampton Downs pole position
Justin Allen’s motorsport mojo returned in style with pole position for the first race of the weekend in the final round of the 2023 Toyota 86 Championship at Hampton Downs this morning.
Allen, who has six podiums to his name in this season’s championship but no wins so far, was the only driver to beat the 1 minute 17 second time for the 3km Hampton Downs national circuit lap time and his 1 minute 16.913 eclipsed Fynn Osborne by two tenths of a second.
Championship protagonists Brock Gilchrist and Clay Osborne also had plenty of speed, and will line up fourth and fifth for the afternoon’s first race, with the impressive series returnee Hunter Robb impressing with a solid third place in qualifying.
Allen was delighted to be back at the front, commenting afterwards: “I’m really happy, I had a lot of confidence in the car as soon as I went out on the track right from the word go. That one lap in the first run stood for the rest of the session so I am happy for everyone in the team.
“The car was quick and I managed to get the perfect lap in on lap four which we knew would be the optimal lap.
“It’s good to be up front again and we’ll have one more try this weekend. It’s been a long time between drinks.”
The early laps of the session saw Gilchrist, both Osborne brothers and Allen trade fastest lap times with Tayler Bryant and Christina Orr-West also in the mix at the sharp end of the field. As the session progressed nobody could match Allen’s blistering pace but it was Fynn Osborne who led the chasing pack, doubly impressive after his crew had plenty of repair work to do after a testing crash on Friday.
With brother Clay fourth and a relaxed Gilchrist comfortable in fifth it was Orr-West who took the other spot on the third row of the grid, out qualifying masters class rival and points leader John Penny by just five hundredths of a second.
Tayler Bryant set a good pace early on but ultimately fell back to eighth on the grid, with another series returnee Hugo Allan blowing away a year’s worth of cobwebs for ninth and championship outsider Dion Pitt with it all to do in tenth.
In the battle for rookie honours, Rylan Gray couldn’t quite match his front running pace of Friday testing but he still had the measure of his nearest challenger Tom Bewley. Gray will line up 11th on the grid with Bewley further back in 15th.