Motorsport: Liam Lawson a TRS winner again in Invercargill, rookie racer stars
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Liam Lawson has bounced back from a rough weekend of racing at Teretonga Park to win the Castrol Toyota Racing Series feature race — and subsequently the Spirit of a Nation trophy.
The result means Lawson now holds a provisional 18-point lead in the championship over teammate Igor Fraga; the latter having finished second to Lawson in the finale. It's the series leader's third race win of the season, and second feature-race win on the trot.
The opening race of the day, meanwhile, was won by series rookie Emilien Denner. The Danish driver is not only a rookie to the series, but is also fresh to the world of car racing as a whole following strong results in karts. His win (ahead of Lirim Zendeli, Lawson, Ido Cohen, and Franco Colapinto) came in only his fifth career car race.
For race three, Lawson got the hole-shot of the front-runners at the start; jumping away ahead of surprise pole-sitter Jackson Walls. Apart from Lirim Zendeli and Oliver Rasmussen's minor offs through the dust on the exit of turn one (their rejoins were risky, but somehow didn't result in contact), it was a clean opening lap — Lawson leading Walls, Fraga, and Yuki Tsunoda.
Walls survived a minor off on lap three at turn three, with Tsunoda's reacting forcing him wide at turn four. In the melee, Fraga made a position on Walls. Tsunoda also got by to take over third place.
The race settled into a rhythm at the front, as Lawson and Fraga kicked clear over Tsunoda and as a long battle pack fifth emerged behind Lucas Petersson. Petersson eventually lost fifth following a sudden power loss on the front straight, allowing Gregoire Saucy and Saturday winner Caio Collet past.
Lawson had a healthy margin over Fraga for most of the race, but that gap shrank to well under a second as the final laps loomed — the Pukekohe driver later citing that his car had momentary power issues both during the race and prior to the start. The leading pair were both on lap-record pace in the afternoon sun; Lawson clocking an impressive 0:53.820 track record.
Despite the surge, the defending champ had Fraga's measure towards the end of the race. The gap swelled to over a second, and then a late caution putting the final nail in the coffin. The caution stemmed from a collision between race-two winner Denner and Rasmussen at turn one — sending both into the gravel trap.
The subsequent safety car doubled as the end of the race — Lawson, Fraga, Tsunoda, Walls, Collet, Saucy, Petersson, Colapinto, José Blanco, and Petr Ptacek crossing the line in the top 10 positions. The series now travels to Hampton Downs for round three of the series next weekend.
Castrol Toyota Racing Series Round 2 Teretonga Park results; Race 3 (provisional)
1. Liam Lawson
2. Igor Fraga
3. Yuki Tsunoda
4. Jackson Walls
5. Caio Collet
6. Gregoire Saucy
7. Lucas Petersson
8. Franco Colapinto
9. José Blanco
10. Petr Ptacek
11. Ido Cohen
12. Lirim Zendeli
13. Spike Kohlbecker
14. Rui Andrade
15. Axel Gnos
16. Henning Enqvist
DNF. Emilien Denner
DNF. Oliver Rasmussen
DNS. Chelsea Hebert