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Penny fights off Robb for popular 86 victory at Manfeild

John Penny took his first overall victory of the season in the Toyota 86 Championship today years – taking out Race 1 at Manfeild – Circuit Chris Amon, after Tom Bewley was docked five seconds for a jumped start.

Bewley got away a fraction too early leaving Penny, Jackson Rooney and Hunter Robb jostling over the first lap to establish the ‘real’ lead. Series leader Tom was given a five second penalty for his ambitious getaway and it effectively ruled him out of the battle for victory immediately.

By the end of the second lap the leading group had established a one second lead over Cormac Murphy, fifth on the road in the early stages. He led the second pack which included Harry Townshend, Justin Allen, Saxon Sheehan and a fast-starting Lockie Bloxsom.

Robb – fastest man on the track in the early stages – quickly caught Penny and hovered right behind the pole position sitter but could not find a way past, even with headlights ablaze to try and unsettle the wily veteran.

After ten laps Penny came home just over two seconds in arrears of Bewley and that was enough to secure him the win. Bewley’s time penalty dropped him to fourth leaving the top three as Penny, Robb and Rooney.

Penny – who promised before the start of the season to give the younger competitors a run for their money – was delighted to win.

“I knew early on that Tom might have a penalty but it wasn’t confirmed over the radio until a bit later so I did have to focus on keeping him in sight and not letting him get too much of a lead,” he said on the podium.

“Having said that I had Hunter filling my mirrors throughout so I had one eye on that too, but the car was great and I didn’t have to defend too hard.”

Cormac Murphy recorded his best result in the championship with a very impressive fifth place, beating William Exton in the process. Harry Townshend was an equally impressive sixth for his best result, and Saxon Sheehan scored his personal best in the category with eighth.

Justin Allen was a feature of the midfield battle throughout and came home in ninth with Australian Scholarship champion Lockie Bloxsom rounding out the top ten.

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