Championship lead swaps again: Armstrong wins at Hampton Downs
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Marcus Armstrong has taken his second race win of the 2019 Castrol Toyota Racing Series season, leading from lights to flag in the category's second race at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park — in turn claiming back a five-point championship advantage over Liam Lawson in the process.
The Christchurch-based driver dominated much of the race, rarely looking under threat from second-place driver Raoul Hyman.
"To be honest I just pushed the whole way," said Armstrong. "We were quite fast. I was a bit worried at the end when there was a safety car with two or three laps to go, because I don't want another safety car restart with one or two to go — it's just a bit too much. But in the end we got the win and the points.
"I think we can do the same tomorrow, hopefully. The car is easy to drive at the moment, it's fast, and I feel quite comfortable."
A lap-one bungle between Petr Pracek and Friday race winner Artem Petrov [pictured above] brought out another red flag (following the three that unfolded on the Friday), but it would prove to be one of just two interruptions in a race that was largely straightforward.
From pole Armstrong had won the start and, after initially making a prompt get-away off the line, he did it again when the race went green again. His nearest rival was Hyman, with series leader Lawson in third and Lucas Auer fourth.
The bulk of big moves took place from fifth place onwards; Esteban Muth and Jackson Walls squabbling for fifth and the recovering Brendon Leitch trying to fight back into the top eight with the likes of Calan Williams, Kazuto Kotaka, and Dev Gore.
Walls, who is only into his third TRS race after missing round one, scooped fifth by making a brave dive inside Muth at the Carousel [pictured below]. Leitch meanwhile had cracked the top 10 after getting Kazuto, and was on target to get to at least ninth as he battled Gore.
But with six laps to go, Leitch's run stopped after he made nose-to-tail contact with Gore at turn four — as he tried to perform a 'switchback' move on the American. This pinged a piece of Gore's rear wing off, while Leitch lost his whole front wing.
Losing plenty of spots, Leitch returned to pit-lane. Gore on the other hand was less lucky; spinning at turn one at the commencement of the following lap. After getting stuck in the sand, the spin brought out a safety car.
With just a handful of laps to go, the field trickled around the track behind the safety car in what ended up being a finish under yellow flags. This left Armstrong to take the win and close the margin to Lawson once again in the championship. Hyman took second, his third podium finish of the season, with Lawson third, Auer fourth, and Walls fifth.
Two more races are set to follow tomorrow; the partial reverse-grid race at 11.20am (20 laps) and the NZ Motor Cup feature race at 3.30pm (25 laps). Live streaming can be viewed by clicking here.
Race two Toyota Racing Series results (unofficial)
1. Marcus Armstrong
2. Raoul Hyman
3. Liam Lawson
4. Lucas Auer
5. Jackson Walls
6. Esteban Muth
7. Cameron Das
8. Calan Williams
9. Kazuto Kotaka
10. Petru Florescu
11. Thomas Smith
12. Parker Locke
13. Brendon Leitch
14. Dev Gore
15. Artem Petrov (DNF)
16. Petr Ptacek (DNF)