Brock Gilchrist is the 2023 Toyota 86 Champion following a high-drama final race of the season at Hampton Downs.
In a gripping conclusion to the championship Gilchrist was spun at Turn 3 and hit hard on the left side by William Exton on the first lap while sitting in third place.
A DNF would hand the title to his main rival Clay Osborne if Osborne won – which he ultimately did – and there was audible relief in the Gilchrist camp when Brock selected a gear and got going again.
“When I took the hit I thought it was all over but it was still running, I grabbed a gear and got it out of the weeds and got it going again,” said Gilchrist.
“I went straight on under braking later in the lap because the ABS was damaged in the contact and I lost that, so the rest of the race was about keeping it all together and driving her home. Very special crossing the line I can tell you.
“I was so stressed that entire race but I managed to keep my cool and make it to the end. I’ve got a lot of people to thank, to be standing in this position it’s just amazing. Clay hasn’t let me rest once so big props to him, it’s been a great year and he’s been very fast.”
Osborne ended up winning the race – and the round – owning the 14-lap finale with a dominant display. He fended off an early challenge from Dion Pitt and a late challenge from a sensational Hunter Robb in his best drive of the season – but in the end, it wasn’t enough with Gilchrist coming home in 17th and taking the title by 11 points.
Saturday race winner Justin Allen was right back on the pace and made his way through the field with some great moves that included a final one on Pitt for third place. Pitt brought it home in fourth with Clay Richards – in only his second round of the championship – taking an eye-catching fifth place.
Tom Bewley came off best in a spirited fight with new Rookie champion Rylan Gray to take sixth, while Christina Orr-West completed an impressive Sunday, bouncing back strongly from a blown engine on Saturday. In two races she gained a total of 22 places, the highest number of place gains over a weekend during the entire season. With Gray later receiving a time penalty, Orr-West was classified seventh.
The ever-improving Thomas Mallard came home eighth with Tayler Bryant and Fynn Osborne rounding out the top ten.
Gilchrist ultimately took the flag in 17th in his wounded racer, but the points didn’t matter. He took the flag and the championship after a wonderful season of speed and consistency. He takes a clean sweep of the Championship’s top prizes which include a weekend at the Nürburgring in a GR Supra GT4 EVO with rookie champion Rylan Gray.
NEXEN New Zealand are proud to have sponsored Brock during his Toyota 86 Championship season.