INDEPENDENT NEWS

Robb Ahead But Too Close To Call For Christchurch

Published: Wed 7 Feb 2024 09:42 AM
Hunter Robb heads to Christchurch and the Euromarque Motorsport Park at the top of the points table in the 2023-2024 Toyota 86 Championship, but he’s unlikely to have it all his own way as the series heads South for its next two rounds.
Bewley and Robb will renew their battle in Christchurch. Picture Bruce Jenkins.
Tom Bewley was the dominant force at the first round at Taupo in November. At the last round at Manfeild – Circuit Chris Amon two weeks ago, however, it was series veterans John Penny and Justin Allen, along with Robb, who went home with a victory apiece.
If history shows the drivers, the teams and the fans of the Toyota 86 Championship anything, it’s that it just gets harder and more competitive as the season wears on. The front runners know this too and will fight every lap to get back to the top step of the podium.
Robb, still in his rookie year, possesses speed and race craft in abundance and that will only get better. His win at Manfeild was impressive and he’ll simply be looking to pick up where he left off with more victories in Christchurch.
Bewley is just two points behind the leader and knows how to win. Manfeild didn’t go as he would have planned but Taupo showed he can put together a winning weekend. Expect him to be in the leading pack and in the thick of the action.
Behind him, William Exton is a league ahead of where he was as a rookie last season. He’s been close to or at the front throughout and has shown the all-important consistency required to keep notching up a decent points haul in every race. That, perhaps more than most other top-class championships in New Zealand, is a critical key to a title-winning campaign.
John Penny knows that too. This year he’s found a bit of extra pace as well and that makes him a serious threat to the youngsters’ title hopes. Qualifying and the first race at Manfeild were top class but the wheels came off a bit in the second and third races. If he can add his usual consistency to this year’s pace at Christchurch, he’ll be a factor.
Jackson Rooney is enjoying a fabulous start to his Rookie season and has been near the front at both rounds so far. A win cannot be too far in the future.
Justin Allen opened his winners account too with a fine performance in Race 2 at Manfeild. He sits fifth behind Rooney in the points.
Harry Townshend, Australians Lockie Bloxsom and Alice Buckley, Tayler Bryant, Hayden Bakkerus, Cormac Murphy and Christina Orr-West will also be on or close to the lead pace this weekend and could spring a surprise or two when the action gets underway with official practice on Friday.

2023-2024 Toyota 86 Championship
Round 1 – November 17-19 – Taupo International Motorsport Park
Round 2 – January 26-28 – Manfeild - Circuit Chris Amon
Round 3 – February 9-11 – Euromarque Motorsport Park
Round 4 – February 16-18 – Highlands Motorsport Park – NZ Grand Prix
Round 5 – March 15-17 – Hampton Downs Motorsport Park
Round 6 – April 19-21 – Taupo International Motorsport Park - Supercars

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