Christchurch’s Jaden Ransley has continued his championship charge in the 2018–’19 Toyota 86 Championship with a second straight victory at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon this morning in his Miles Toyota racer.
The win, however, was not as straightforward as his Saturday effort. This time he was pushed all the way by both CareVets Scholarship drivers; Callum Hedge and Arran Crighton. What followed was a grandstand two-on-one race to the flag — further impacted by a mid-race safety car.
“I had a terrible start, which put me into second. We had a good battle with Arran [Crighton] and then managed to get past him,” Said Ransley afterwards. “Callum [Hedge] was really coming along good too. Our car went off a bit at the end there, so there was bit of a fight to keep Callum behind me. Hopefully we can carry on with the same result in the next race.”
With the race-two grid defined by the second-fastest laps set in Saturday’s qualifying session, Ransley was on pole position ahead of Crighton, Hedge and Jordan Baldwin in the Intermach car. Campbell Stewart and Peter Vodanovich sat fifth and sixth.
Come the race start, it was Crighton that got the better jump out of those on the front row. It looked like Ransley might have been able to use his inside line to take the lead into turn one, but Crighton was determined to lead and by the turn-four hairpin he had the top spot.
From the second row, Hedge had struggled off the start. He dropped to fifth, behind Baldwin and Vodanovich and was under threat from Kaleb Ngatoa, but what followed was a mature recovery through the order.
Hedge was fearless, lobbing his car inside Vodanovich on lap two at turn one and shortly afterwards getting past championship rival Baldwin. Behind him Ngatoa had a wild spin exiting turn one — lucky to not get collected by the chasing pack.
A lead change looked imminent on lap three. Ransley had been all over Crighton’s tail after getting edged on lap one, culminating in a big look up the inside at Higgins. By turn one on the following lap, Ransley was by.
There was change further down the order on the same lap, too, as Hedge got around Baldwin at turn four. The former series leader was struggling to hang with the leaders — losing another spot to Jacob Cranston (who had fought from outside the top five to become a factor) in the Best Bars car on lap seven. Hedge meanwhile was on a mission, and soon he was in second after executing a similar pass on teammate Crighton.
It was already looking like a grandstand finish was in the making, but that was simply magnified by a safety car on lap eight for the spun and beached Toyota 86 of Leo Bult. This meant what meagre gaps there were between the field’s various battle packs would be eliminated for a dash to the flag.
The race restarted on lap 10, with just two laps to go. The restart itself and the subsequent lap were relatively mild and left all the action to unfold on the last lap.
Hedge clearly fancied his chances at another race win and that saw him try to make a move around Ransley’s outside through turn one with just a lap to go. Ransley afforded the CareVets driver minimal room, and was similarly awake when Hedge tried to dive inside him at turn four — an attempt to pull the same move he had done on both Baldwin and Crighton.
Hedge’s last genuine option was a move at Higgins. But, Ransley’s defence was fierce. He was shallow with his racing line on both corner entry and corner exit, and with Hedge unable to get a superior run off the corner it left Ransley to take another Manfeild race win; although admittedly a less dominant one than yesterday, with the margin of victory just over two tenths of a second.
“Any top three finish is good points,” added Ransley. “I don’t think Jordan had a good finish in that one either, it’s going to come down to Callum and I in the last round I think.”
Behind the top three, Cranston claimed an impressive fourth over Baldwin in fifth. Stewart, Connor Adam, Justin Allen, Sam Wright and Vodanovich rounded out the top 10.
The third and final race of the Toyota 86 Championship Manfeild round takes place 2.05pm this afternoon.
Toyota 86 Championship — Race 2, Manfeild
1. Jaden Ransley – Miles Toyota/Kitchen Studio
2. Callum Hedge – CareVets NZ Ltd
3. Arran Crighton – CareVets NZ Ltd
4. Jacob Cranston – Best Bars/Vista Lite
5. Jordan Baldwin – Intermach NZ/Carters Tyres
6. Campbell Stewart – NZPGS/Hydraulink
7. Connor Adam – Post Haste/Weigh Northland
8. Justin Allen – Battery Town/Thunder Adventure
9. Sam Wright – Tony Richards Toyota/Premier
10. Peter Vodanovich – CMC Markets/MacClure’s ITM
11. Kaleb Ngatoa – JJ Wallers/Capture Sign
12. Connor Davison – Hampton Downs/Highlands Park
13. Brock Gilchrist – NEXUS Logistics/Giltrap Group
14. Andrew Jackson – North Shore Toyota
15. Leo Bult – North Western Toyota