Toyota 86 Racing Series leader Tim Brook has extended his lead in the championship with two podium finishes in a dramatic weekend of racing at the iconic Mount Panorama circuit at Bathurst.
After setting a fastest lap time of 3:00.2864 in qualifying, Brook started on pole before finishing second in Saturday’s Race 14 behind Jake Klein – who took his second win for the season – with Dylan Gulson completing the podium.
Brook finished the weekend with a win on Sunday in Race 15 of the series ahead of Cameron Crick with Klein taking third place.
Before Bathurst, Brook was just four points ahead of Luke King, who finished sixth and fourth in the weekend’s two completed races, but his success on the 6.2km circuit now gives him a margin of 48 points ahead of King going into the last round of the series at Newcastle.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Tim Brook after his win on Sunday.
“I was screaming on the radio when that chequered flag came out and that means a lot. We went a bit soft yesterday and we were thinking championship but this morning the team had a bit of a rev up and made sure it wasn’t going to happen again,” he said.
In Sunday’s race Brook set the fastest lap of the weekend with a time of 2:39.5168 in a round that had plenty of drama on the track as the intense competition, big grid and challenge of the Bathurst circuit got the better of some drivers.
Saturday morning’s first Race 13 got off to a good start but as the field of 37 cars climbed toward the cutting on the first lap, Ben Grice spun and slammed into the barrier taking out George Gutierrez, Trent Grubel and Declan Fraser in the process.
The safety car came out but with Grice’s car on fire and many more damaged, the time it took to clear the track meant the race was suspended with no result.
The second outing on Saturday was much cleaner with some superb racing with Brook ahead of Klein before the latter took the lead on lap 3, with Luke van Herwaarde – who had started from fifth on the grid – also hard on his tail.
Van Herwaarde’s challenge for the lead came very close a couple of times and on the last lap going into the chase, door to door with Klein, a brief contact between the pair saw him spin, allowing Brook, Gulson, and Crick to slip through with Vanna eventually finishing in fifth.
Sunday’s grid started with Klein and Brook on the front row with Brook’s charge giving him an early lead but as the field of 35 cars raced towards the chase at the end of lap 1, Dylan Thomas went wide and tore across the grass.
Re-entering the track, he was hit hard by invited US driver James Davison, who after coming to a stop was then shunted in the rear by Jaiden Maggs resulting in a safety car intervention.
After clearing the track, there was one final lap to race and Brook held the lead all the way to the finish.
He said he was now looking forward to the final round at Newcastle that will be raced on the NSW street circuit on November 23-25 and was hoping to take the season championship.
“It would mean everything. It’s been a big, big year for us, we have worked hard behind the scenes and now it’s just about putting the icing on the cake,” he said.
Race 13: suspended
Race 14 results:
1. Jake Klein
2. Tim Brook
3. Dylan Gulson
Race 15 results:
1. Tim Brook
2. Cameron Crick
3. Jake Klein
THE TOYOTA 86 RACING SERIES
The Toyota 86 Racing Series is designed to provide an entry point and training ground for up-and-coming drivers, offering a prize pool of $150,000.
Top-three place rewards for the year are $50,000, $30,000 and $15,000. The coveted Kaizen Award for continuous improvement now includes prizes valued up to $35,000 including a fully funded trip to compete in a round of New Zealand’s 86 racing series. The entry fee is $1,500 per round.
Open to variants of Toyota’s cult-classic sports car, the series is part of the support program at selected rounds of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
In 2018, the Toyota 86 Racing Series is being run over six events: Phillip Island 500 (April 20-22), Townsville 400 (July 6-8), The Bend Supersprint (August 24-26), Sandown 500 (September 14-16), Bathurst 1000 (October 4-7) and Newcastle 500 (November 23-25).
For regular updates and more information go to https://toyota.com.au/86/racing-series.