Munro leads strong Kiwi charge for historic trophy
As the 61st New Zealand Grand Prix looms this coming afternoon, doubling as the final race of the 2016 Toyota Racing Series season, New Zealand's three-pronged attack on the trophy looks most likely to be spearheaded by Giles Motorsport's James Munro. The Christchurch-based driver enjoyed a promising two qualifying performances yesterday, before finishing second in race one of the weekend.
“We've definitely got the car in a good position, so I think we should be much stronger tomorrow,” Munro told Driven following his race one drive.
“I definitely want to push for the win tomorrow, that's for sure. It's frustrating to miss out on it in that race, we definitely had the speed on everyone.”
After claiming fourth place in qualifying for race one, and fifth in qualifying for the New Zealand Grand Prix, Munro fought to second — downing championship leader Lando Norris in the process after having shadowed the 16-year-old for most of the race.
Munro's biggest competition tomorrow looks likely to be Lando Norris, who starts the big race from pole. Photo / Matthew Hansen
The pair had been dicing for first, but were both rounded up by Munro's teammate Ferdinand Habsburg at the race's climactic restart.
“Ferdinand [Habsburg] managed to come from third to get through to the lead off the restart, and I slotted in behind he and Lando [Norris]. I managed to put a lot of pressure on Lando and force him into a mistake. [...] I went to chase down Ferdinand, and I was catching him — but not enough,” Munro explained.
After a occasionally shaky and unlucky start to the season, Munro's form has turned around — culminating in a podium placing at the recent Hampton Downs event, as well as a competitive showing at last weekend's meeting at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo.
“The car's been good for the last few weekends. Particularly at Taupo, where I think by the end we were really quick by the end of the weekend, but it was just unfortunate that we had that incident in the last race as I think we could have been right up there.
“I've known the whole weekend that we were going to be fast in race trim. So I'm happy with that at least, and I'm looking forward to the Grand Prix.
“Hopefully we can get one tomorrow.”
Photo / Matthew Hansen
The 19-year-old recently signed a deal to compete in the USF2000 series later this year, the class symbolizing a stepping stone on America's Mazda Road to Indy feeder-category framework.
Munro, as well as fellow Kiwis Taylor Cockerton and Brendon Leitch — the latter also potentially eying up a podium championship result — will take to the circuit at 10.24am today for race two of the weekend, before the New Zealand Grand Prix commences at 4.08pm.