Auckland driver Callum Quin says he is aiming to close the gap on leader Ash Blewett as the 2015-2016 Toyota Finance 86 Championship heads for its final round at Taupo next month.
Blewett dominated the first two rounds in late 2015, but Quin is currently second on points. He says the pursuing field has caught up and is on Blewett’s pace with the final round of three races remaining. In the southern rounds at Ruapuna and Teretonga he was one of three drivers able to take outright wins in what many are saying is the most competitive grid yet seen in the championship.
“The southern rounds showed we can put pressure on Ash, and it works. It would be a tall ask for us to take the outright title at this late stage – we’d need two wins and for Ash to not finish – but I think we have the Spark/Onform Signs TR 86 in a position where we can challenge for race wins at the final round,” said Quin.
As the championship developed, Quin (19) found himself locked in a see-saw battle with masters category leader John Penny. The pair fought race by race for the second position in the championship, Quin racking up nine podium finishes in fifteen races including a brace of second place finishes at the opening round.
“For me, racing the endurance events over winter was extremely valuable. I think Ash had the early edge because they did more testing specific to the championship, but it’s so close now, we’ve all lifted our games,” he said.
Wet weather racing at Ruapuna, he said, was ‘tricky’, but a week later at Teretonga “everything clicked” and he was very comfortable with the speed of the car, scoring a win in the first race of the weekend. Returning to the North Island the championship joined the single-seaters of Toyota Racing Series to race at Manfeild, where two second place finishes added handy points to Quin’s total.
“As always, and especially in single-make racing, consistency is key. You can’t afford to have an off day or even miss a race result. We’re aiming now to consolidate second place in the championship ahead of John Penny and have a great finish at Taupo,” he said.
After five rounds of the championship Quin is second overall behind Blewett. The points gap is 156 with 75 points available for each race win. John Penny trails Callum Quin by a further seven points. There are three races at the final round, which takes place at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo, March 26-27.