Motorsport: Driver delivers goods
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Young Indian driver Arjun Maini built on his good form at round one of the Toyota Racing Series last weekend at Ruapuna to notch up his first win of the championship yesterday.
The 17-year-old qualified third for the first race of the Teretonga weekend and took advantage of pole sitter German Matteo Ferrer's mistake at turn one on the opening lap to slip in behind Frenchman Brandon Maisano.
The safety car was called into action while Ferrer's car was pulled out of the sand trap and on the restart, Maini monstered Maisano to grab the lead.
He was never seriously challenged over the ensuing laps and masterfully controlled the race to cross the line ahead of Maisano and Canadian Lance Stroll.
The best of the four Kiwis in the field was James Munro in fourth, who couldn't hold off the hard-charging Stroll.
"The car handled fantastically after the team fixed the rear wing, which wasn't functioning properly in qualifying," said Maini.
"The restart worked well for me as I got the power down early and managed to get alongside and then past Brandon.
"Once I got in front, I was comfortable and made sure I didn't make any mistakes."
Another local driver, Brendon Leitch, is on pole for both races today including the feature 20-lap event where the drivers will be competing for the Spirit of the Nation Cup.
The racing so far in the five weekend series has been close with the field at times being covered by just over a second. The 20 drivers are all accomplished but a lot of the credit for the close racing has to go to the new FT50 TRS car.
It replaces the FT40 that has been a valued servant to the series for the past 10 years. The new car has the latest safety technology and also incorporates a six-speed gearbox with a paddle shift and twin shocks up front. Tatuus, the Italian manufacturer, also incorporated a number of other upgrades and improvements and the drivers have all given the car the thumbs up.
Ten years ago when the original Tatuus FT40 chassis was introduced into the New Zealand racing scene, the company's chief design engineer Corrado Casiraghi made the trip out, and he's here again this year with his new baby.
"We looked to improve on what we have done in the past and it was time to build a new car," said Casiraghi.
"We worked with Toyota and TRS to define what we expected and it's definitely a good car. It looks nice and everyone is happy and excited by what we have built.
"The car has been around 2.5 seconds a lap faster than the old car, which is over what our best expectation was. So we are very happy with the project.
"We got all the good parts from other cars and changed them to suit what TRS wanted and designed a specific for the series. It's similar to a European Formula Abarth.
"From our point of view the series is impressive considering how small New Zealand is compared with other countries. We were optimistic for the series 10 years ago and now look at it. It's absolutely fantastic and good for everyone."