Ferdinand Habsburg takes maiden win in TRS, as all three Kiwis finish in top ten
18-year-old Ferdinand Habsburg has won the opening race of the 2016 Toyota Racing Series (TRS) at Mike Pero Motorsport Park, beating home Mitch Evans' 2015 GP2 teammate Artem Markelov and hot favourite and race pole sitter Lando Norris.
“I'm very happy. It was a pretty simple straight-forward race, and I'm glad to have won it,” Habsburg told Driven.
It is the Austrian driver's second season of competition in TRS, having claimed two podium finishes in 2015 — Habsburg happy to commend the series for functioning as a training ground for the next generation of open-wheeler drivers.
“In Europe it's too cold to race at this time of year, so you have two options — either wait for the next race, or be down here.
“Every mile counts as a driver, so why not come here? It's a really good competition, there's lots of European drivers, and it's great to compare myself to drivers from all around the world.
“I came here for some expectation to do well — last year was a learning year — and it's the first time I've come to a championship where I wasn't a rookie,” he added.
The race's sole caution flag was caused after Canada's Kami Laliberté went off at turn one. Photo / Velocity NZ
After setting the pace during Friday practice — topping two out of the three sessions — Habsburg qualified second to Norris before out-pacing in their battle to turn one of the Ruapuna facility. Despite Norris setting a new track record for a TRS car around the Christchurch circuit, a 1:17.062, he could not hold onto second — Markelov taking over the position.
The race was interrupted on lap four after Canadian Kami Laliberté went off at turn one while battling with Giles Motorsport's Antoni Ptak, beaching his FT-50 in the sand trap, narrowly avoiding making contact with the wall.
“I was right behind car number 67 [Ptak], and I didn't expect them to brake so early. So I smash on my brakes. The wheels locked up and unfortunately I went straight ahead,” said a disappointed Laliberté.
The first Kiwi driver home was James Munro, finishing the race in fourth position having briefly held onto a spot on the podium. Guanyu Zhou, fellow New Zealander Brendon Leitch, Pedro Piquet, Jahan Daruvala, Taylor Cockerton, and Timothe Buret completed the top ten — all three New Zealanders featuring in the line-up.
The series now prepare for race two of the weekend at 11.00am and race three at 3.00pm, with the famed Lady Wigram Trophy to be awarded to the final race winner.