The Toyota Racing Series of New Zealand got underway at Ruapuna Park this past weekend, with the group of drivers that TSO is watching having, for the most part, very forgettable weekends.
Race 1 – 15 laps
A 10th place finish by Timothe Buret was the best result that any of “our” drivers could muster during Saturday’s first 15-lap race. TSO”s drivers of interest had the following final results:
- Will Owen – finished 11th after qualifying 7th
- Nicolas Dapero – finished 12th after qualifying 11th
- Timothe Buret – finished 10th after qualifying 17th
- Devlin DeFrancesco – finished 14th after qualifying 14th
- Theo Bean – finished 16th after qualifying 16th
The race was won by sophomore Toyota Racing Series driver and Ferdinand Habsburg. The 18 year-old Austrian was able to hold off GP2 veteran Artem Markelov and current MSA Formula (FIA F4) champion Lando Norris to capture his first ever victory in a formula car.
Race 2 – 15 laps
The second race of the weekend and the first of two chaotic wet races on Sunday, once again had Buret leading the group of drivers that TSO is following. The 20 year-old French driver came home in 6th spot. It was a forgettable race for Owen and Dapero, the two 2016 Juncos Racing Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire teammates. American Owen originally moved up eight spots from his 13th place qualifying slot spot to finish an impressive 5th, but was penalized 10 seconds post-race for weaving behind the safety car. Argentinian Dapero originally finished 17th but was later disqualified for careless driving. TSO”s drivers of interest had the following final results:
- Will Owen – finished 12th after qualifying 13th
- Nicolas Dapero – disqualified after qualifying 11th
- Timothe Buret – finished 6th after qualifying 13th
- Devlin DeFrancesco – finished 10th after qualifying 16th
- Theo Bean – finished 17th after qualifying 18th
After a podium in the first race of the series, the 16 year-old Norris was able to score his first victory. He crossed the line ahead of Pedro Piquet, the 17 year-old son of three-time Formula One world Champion Nelson Piquet, and Italian F4 vice-champion Guan Yu Zho, a 16 year-old from China.
Race 3 – 20 laps – Lady Wigram Trophy
The final contest of the weekend, the 20 lap Lady Wigram Trophy race was run under mixed conditions where making the correct tire choice was the key to a good result. Ganassi Gen G driver, Defrancesco continued his steady improvement from the first practice and was able to bring his Toyota powered Tatuus home in 6th place. TSO”s drivers of interest had the following final results:
- Will Owen – DNF after qualifying 12th
- Nicolas Dapero – finished 10th after qualifying 7th
- Timothe Buret – finished 15th after qualifying 19th
- Devlin DeFrancesco – finished 6th after qualifying 10th
- Theo Bean – finished DNF after starting 16th
The race was won by Force India protege Jehan Daruvala who started the race in 15th, made the correct tire choice and used a superb restart that saw him jump from seventh to first, to score the 17 year-old Indian’s first formula car victory. Daruvala was joined on the podium by race one winner Habsburg and Russian GP2 veteran Markelov.
The Toyota Racing Series is back in action at the Teretonga Park Raceway next weekend and TSO will be back with another update that will hopefully be a little happier for the five drivers we are watching.
Points standings after three of 15 races
|3||Lando Norris||Great Britain||171|
|6||Brendon Leitch||New Zealand||130|
|11||Taylor Cockerton||New Zealand||96|
|12||James Munro||New Zealand||78|