Top NZ Rookie And Master Enjoy Bathurst Challenge
Last season’s top Toyota 86 Championship rookie Hugo Allan and masters class winner John Penny flew the flag for the New Zealand series over the weekend at Bathurst, though there were mixed fortunes on the track.
Hugo Allan enjoyed his Bathurst weekend. Picture Jack Martin Photography
The two got to race in the highly competitive field of 30 plus cars thanks to their outstanding performances in the 2022 Toyota 86 Championship, where both also secured outright wins. And just to make the weekend even more challenging, Bathurst laid on some of its most inclement weather in years.
Competing in TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Australia entered race cars, Allan made steady progress throughout the weekend. After qualifying sixth he recorded a DNF in the first race, but came back strongly to take a 15th place in the second race and an eye-catching eighth place finish in the weekend’s final battle.
It was more of a challenging weekend for the evergreen Penny, however, who was in the thick of the midfield battle pack action throughout. His best performances came in races one and two with 22nd and 20th respectively though he crashed during the final race.
The legendary Mountain made quite an impression on Allan too, racing there for the very first time.
“I was totally shocked by the elevation,” he explained. “It went beyond expectation and more! I quickly figured out that it’s one of those tracks where you have to put everything on the line to do a quick lap which made it an incredibly enjoyable experience.
I was stoked to qualify sixth however was slightly upset by a silly mistake that I made on my lap which cost me a front row start! With the rain in Race 1, it was a terrifying experience if I’m honest! 200kph down Conrod and it was impossible to see where the track went. However, I had a lot of fun passing a total of 18 cars in even racing laps across Race 2 and 3. I can’t thank Toyota NZ and AU enough for the incredible experience!
Ryan Wood, a championship contender in the 2020-21 Championship, was also having a run in the category and was another to enjoy a weekend of highs and lows. After qualifying fourth he managed to lead the first race before a wild moment at The Chase. He came back from a DNF in that race to take two top twenty finishes in races two and three.
The tenth anniversary championship season in 2023 should see an even bigger field that 2022. It begins at Highlands Motorsport Park in January before the trip down to Teretonga the following weekend. After that the teams head north to Hampton Downs in early February to complete their supporting role for the Castrol TRS championship.
Drivers then have a well-earned break until mid-March when the championship resumes at Taupo. The penultimate round will take place at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon with the big finale venue and date still to be confirmed.