Lawson wins: Kiwi rebounds from Hampton Downs disaster to triumph at home
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New Zealand's Liam Lawson has bounced back from a mixed Hampton Downs weekend to win the opening race of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series weekend at his home circuit; Pukekohe Park.
Lawson lost the lead off pole, but soon reclaimed the spot and wouldn't be threatened over the rest of the 20-lap race. This was despite a safety car and a red flag interrupting proceedings. Lawson's key rival Igor Fraga finished third, which was enough for him to retain a tiny championship lead ahead of tomorrow's two races.
The red flag was caused by a crash at turn four for Emilien Denner. The Danish driver's impact was relatively mild, but the red flag helped preserve the length of the race. Caio Collet, who had been in fifth, caused the second safety car with his second crash of the day at the turn three/four complex. He went off at turn four in relatively minor fashion in qualifying (softly nosing the tyres, pictured below). His crash during the race was at a much higher speed; seeing him back into the turn three tyres.
Fraga got the jump off the start to lead the field, but only held that lead until turn five when Lawson made a brave dive under brakes. With Fraga forced wide and made to use every inch of track between turns five and six, it allowed Japan's Yuki Tsunoda to sneak alongside and into second place.
Through the various pauses, Fraga and Tsunoda's battle for second was the closest on track. In the end Tsunoda was able to hold on, finishing 1.2 seconds behind Lawson and half a second up on the series leader.
Ido Cohen continued his competitive run to finish a season-best fourth, having started an also season-best third. Franco Colapinto, Oliver Rasmussen, Gregoire Saucy, and Petr Ptacek completed the top eight.
The top 10 was rounded out by a hard charging Jackson Walls and Tijmen van der Helm. Walls had carved his way from 14th, while van der Helm's result was his best of the season thus far having only debuted at Hampton Downs.
The series has two further races tomorrow, scheduled for 1:35pm and 4.55pm — both covered live on Sky Sport 55.
Castrol Toyota Racing Series Round 4 Pukekohe Park results; Race 1
1. Liam Lawson
2. Yuki Tsunoda
3. Igor Fraga
4. Ido Cohen
5. Franco Colapinto
6. Oliver Rasmussen
7. Gregoire Saucy
8. Petr Ptacek
9. Jackson Walls
10. Tijmen van der Helm
11. Lirim Zendeli
12. Rui Andrade
13. Henning Enqvist
14. Spike Kohlbecker
15. Axel Gnos
16. Lucas Petersson
DNF. Caio Collet
DNF. Emilien Denner