Aaron Borg has shot to the top of the leaderboard in the Toyota 86 Racing Series following two hard-fought wins at Sandown Raceway in Melbourne over the weekend.
After scoring his maiden victory in the series at Bathurst last month (October 2019), he followed it up by taking the chequered flag in both of Saturday’s races, run as a support category for the Supercars Championship event.
The third Toyota 86 race scheduled for the weekend on Sunday was suspended, then cancelled, after John Iafolla speared off the track on lap one before becoming airborne across the Armco and rolling the car several times.
Thankfully, the high levels of safety built into the cars and the expert race preparation by Neal Bates Motorsport meant that Iafolla was able to walk away from the massive crash.
Borg’s two wins at Sandown has given him a total of 886 points for the 2019 season, 20 points ahead of Tim Brook in second with Dylan Thomas in third on 800 points.
And it was the two championship front-runners and fourth on the leaderboard Luke King, that were at the centre of some extremely tight racing action at Sandown with the final results seeing King second and Brook third in both outings, behind Borg.
The weekend’s first race on Saturday morning started with Brook on pole, after setting a new lap record of 1 minute 25.99 seconds in qualifying, with King joining Brook on the front row and Borg and 17-year-old Jaylyn Robotham filling the second row on the grid.
But a great start by King saw him take the lead into turn one with the four front-runners having a two second gap to the rest of the field by lap two.
King led the lead pack through to lap eight before Borg slipped through while Dylan Thomas and Ben Grice closed the gap in fifth and sixth positions delivering a sensational close-fought battle for the final two laps.
Borg held onto the lead and took the chequered flag just 0.2478 seconds ahead of King, with Brook only a further 0.7307 seconds behind, after all three had broken the lap record on lap nine.
Saturday afternoon’s race again saw an intense battle between the three drivers with King and Borg swapping the lead several times while Robotham, and Lachlan Gibbons who had started the race in ninth slot on the grid, raced hard to join the lead pack.
By lap nine, these five drivers were a good five seconds clear of the rest of the 32-car field with Brook clocking a lap six time of 1 minute 25.2588 seconds for yet another new record.
Over the final four laps, the three leaders again pushed on harder with King and Borg swapping the lead before Borg crossed the line first after 13 laps with a time of 18 minutes, 40.9102 seconds.
King and Brook were not far behind with less than 0.3 seconds separating the three podium finishers across the line with Robotham and Gibbons completing the top five.
Borg said it was fantastic to take the series leadership after the first race of the weekend but his focus remained on just winning races.
“It was a great race and the boys gave me a great car. But we are still going out there trying to win races and then come Newcastle we will probably focus on the championship,” Borg said.
“It was great fun out there and it was good to have a good clean battle with Kingy and go back and forth for a few laps but then to come out on top was great,” he said.
With 186 points separating the top five drivers and 300 available in the final round, the stage is now set for some superb Toyota 86 racing action at Newcastle from 22-24 November 2019.
Race 10 results:
Race 11 results:
2019 Toyota 86 Racing Series leaderboard:
Position Driver Points
1st Aaron Borg 886
2nd Tim Brook 866
3rd Dylan Thomas 800
4th Luke King 710
5th Luke van Herwaarde 700
*All results are provisional
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 an overseas round of the 86 racing series.
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.
2019 Toyota 86 Racing Series Calendar
April 12-14 2019: Phillip Island, Victoria
July 5-7: Townsville, Queensland
October 10-13: Bathurst, NSW
November 8-10: Sandown, Victoria
November 22-24: Newcastle, NSW
Source: Toyota Australia
Featured Image: Penrite Oil Sandown 500 Event 14 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Gold Coast, Queensland. Australia 8th-10th 2019