Kiwi crashes out at Hampton Downs, Brazilian takes TRS title lead
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After winning his first race of the 2020 Castrol Toyota Racing Series yesterday, Brazil's Igor Fraga has won the championship's Hampton Downs feature race. The victory subsequently sees the 21-year-old earn the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy, as well as the lead of the championship — 219 points to 202 — with two rounds left to go.
Fraga's championship gains came largely following a crash for former title leader Liam Lawson. The Pukekohe ace appeared to have a mechanical issue in the finale while fighting for the win; resulting in him getting crashed into as he attempted to get out of the way.
“This one was especially tight. At the beginning I had a lot of pressure from my teammate Liam. I think we gave each other just enough room to race and at the end winning like this is very very special," said Fraga. “From here, we need to keep the momentum.”
The day's opening reverse top-six race was one by Toyota Argentina's Franco Colapinto — his and Kiwi Motorsport's first win of the season, having held off Lawson and Oliver Rasmussen. Yuki Tsunoda crossed the line in fourth but later lost the spot after being judged to have pushed Caio Collet wide during a turn one, lap one fracas. This left Saturday winner Fraga to claim fourth, ahead of Petr Ptacek and the recovering Collet.
For the final race, Fraga would start from pole over Lawson, Gregoire Saucy, Ptacek, Collet, Tsunoda, and Jackson Walls. Like a repeat of Saturday's race, Fraga got a great jump off the start while Lawson appeared to have a shocker — dropping back behind Saucy and being lucky to not lose further spots.
Lawson was soon back to second after a brave dive inside Saucy at turn four followed by a not-so-generous amount of room given on the exit of the corner. Saucy violently switched from inside to outside for Porsche Carousel, but it wasn't enough for him to get a switch-back pass. A safety car was called shortly afterwards on lap four for the stranded, stationary car of Emilien Denner. Petr Ptacek also appeared to have some troubles, having slowed to the tail of the grid after being in the running for a top five thanks to a reported dropped cylinder.
The race restarted on lap seven with Lawson clearly wanting to fight for the win instead of settle for points. His restart was good enough for him to go around Fraga's outside, but Fraga was alert to the move and successfully defended — not only at turn one but also into turn two and through attempted passes at turns four and five.
It looked like game over in favour of Fraga when the Brazilian set the fastest lap of the race a few laps later, and then Lawson's race really was over. The defending champ appeared to have some form of mechanical failure coming out of turn two on lap 10. He lost power, and got engulfed by the field. Cresting turn three, he was then collected by American Spike Kohlbecker — putting both drivers out.
“I slowed down for the corner, as I went to get back on power there was nothing. I tried shifting gears, but nothing, the engine was dead," Lawson said. “I have no idea how [Kohlbecker] didn’t see me.”
Lawson's retirement meant Fraga would take the championship lead if he was able to claim a good result. And sure enough he would — topping the race by seven tenths of a second.
The win wasn't without further interruption, with another crash occurring on the race restart following Lawson's crash. Down in the field, Axel Gnos appeared to miscalculate his restart; cannoning into Rui Andrade and then getting collected by an innocent Ido Cohen. With Adrade's car parked across the front straight and two other cars strewn near pit entry, a lengthy delay followed.
When the race eventually restarted just two laps were left; Saucy second over Tsunoda, Collet, Lirim Zendeli, and Henning Enqvist. And that's how the order remained as the chequered flag flew. Lucas Petersson, Colapinto, Rasmussen, and Ptacek completed the top 10.
The series stays in the region for the next round of the series at Pukekohe Park in a week's time. It will be the first time the category's visited the venue in around a decade. The Valvoline D1NZ National Drifting Championship, BNT V8s, Hi-Q Components Formula First, ITM NZ Formula Ford, and more appear on the support card.
Castrol Toyota Racing Series Round 3 Hampton Downs Motorsport Park results; Race 3
1. Igor Fraga
2. Gregoire Saucy
3. Yuki Tsunoda
4. Caio Collet
5. Lirim Zendeli
6. Henning Enqvist
7. Lucas Petersson
8. Franco Colapinto
9. Oliver Rasmussen
10. Petr Ptacek
11. Tijmen van der Helm
12. Jackson Walls
DNF. Rui Andrade
DNF. Axel Gnos
DNF. Ido Cohen
DNF. Liam Lawson
DNF. Spike Kohlbecker
DNF. Emilien Denner