Norris still the one to beat after Taupo
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Norris TRS champion elect, as rivals tiff in Taupo
England's Lando Norris, driving for M2 Motorsport, will approach next weekend's 2016 Toyota Racing Series final in exceptional championship shape after another confident performance at round five of the series at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park — culminating in the driver winning the Denny Hulme Trophy.
Locking out pole positions for races one and three, Norris converted both into race wins with relative ease. Pedro Piquet was the best of the rest on both occasions, finishing in a clear second. A second-place finish in race two for Norris helped complete a dominant, near-perfect weekend for the 16-year-old.
But behind Norris, it was a chaotic round for the series — races two and three both marred by incident.
Lady Wigram Trophy-winner Jehan Daruvala took race two under controversial circumstances. New Zealander Brendon Leitch had put on a clinic for the majority of the race, looking like he would claim his first win of the season. But following the final race restart, the ITM driver lost out after his rivals started before he did. Leitch had seen the green flag, but had elected not to go as the flag had not been 'waved'.
“The flag man put out the green flag for the restart. [...] But he didn’t wave it,” said Leitch, after eventually finishing in fourth.
“I couldn’t see the flag. I went on the call on the radio. [...] It was a bit confusing,” added Norris.
Artem Markelov and James Munro make contact, prompting response from the Russian GP2 pilot. Photo / Bruce Jenkins
The drama continued in race three, when Christchurch's James Munro and Russia's Artem Markelov made contact at turn one of lap one — an angry Markelov gesticulating at the Giles Motorsport driver while still spinning backwards into the sand trap.
While Munro was forced to salvage a result, fellow Kiwis Leitch and Taylor Cockerton both put in strong performances to finish fifth and sixth in the final respectively.
The series now heads to Manfeild Autocourse for their series finale. Norris holds down an 86-point lead in the series over Pedro Piquet. Ferrari Academy driver Guanyu Zhou, Jehan Daruvala, and Brendon Leitch round out the top five in points.