M2 Competition’s Marcus Armstrong ‘s double win at Hampton Downs has put the Ferrari junior in the lead of the 2019 Toyota Racing Series.
Marcus Armstrong has taken over the points lead from teammate Liam Lawson with the former having 203 in his kitty to 169 for the latter after two wins at Hampton Downs to the one for Lawson, for whom the DNF in the final race hit him hard.
The weekend, in fact, opened with the Race 2 of Teretonga weekend on Friday. With the Top 6 reserved, it was MTEC Motorsport’s Kazuto Kotaka starting on pole alongside M2 Competition’s Lucas Auer but the two collided in the very first corner itself.
At the same time, Victory Motor Racing’s Brendon Leitch and M2 Competition’s Esteban Muth came together few corners later with the Belgian’s stricken car requiring a safety car period as M2 Competition’s Cameron Das took the lead of the race.
The race was red-flagged and upon re-start, M2 Competition’s Lawson attacked Das for the lead but before he could get by, Auer had another tangle with Giles Motorsport’s Thomas Smith which brought out the safety car again.
The elongated period allowed Auer to still run but before any action could take place, there was clash between Kotaka and MTEC Motorsport’s Calan Williams which brought out the safety car which soon turned to a red flag situation.
The re-start went wrong as Cameron Das and Lawson crashed when the former’s bunching up tactics behind the safety car went wrong. It was M2 Competition’s Artem Petrov prevailing to win as he was first to cross the line ahead of Giles Motorsport’s Petr Ptacek.
Leitch was third with Giles Motorsport’s Dev Gore in fourth from teammate Raoul Hyman. MTEC Motorsport’s Petru Florescu slotted in sixth as Lawson limped to seventh from MTEC Motorsport’s Jackson Walls and Victor Motor Racing’s Parker Locke.
A time penalty for M2 Competition’s Armstrong put him in 10th with Kotaka in 11th from Smith and Auer. The Hampton-Downs’ weekend’s Race 1 had Armstrong put in a dominant show from pole to win it well with Hyman in second.
The race though had another dose of red flag when Petrov, Ptacek and Leitch came together. The former two were unable to continue while Leitch dropped outside Top 10. With Armstrong well ahead, Hyman fended off Lawson’s pressure well.
The Kiwi settled for third as Auer was fourth after defending well from Walls in fifth who passed Muth early in the race. Cameron Das was seventh with Williams keeping seventh after a supreme fight with recovering Leitch and Gore.
The duo’s troubles brought out a late safety car as their misery allowed Kotaka and Florescu to finish in the Top 10. Position 11-14: Smith, Locke, Leitch & Gore. The Race 2 on Sunday saw Lawson put on a quality show from fourth on the grid.
The Kiwi was right in the mix with leaders Muth and Walls at the start but a contact between the two unsettled him as he lost out to Auer to be third still with Muth leading the Austrian while Walls lost out due to damage.
Pressure from Lawson on Auer worked when the Red Bull junior made a mistake allowed Lawson into second in his chase of Muth with Armstrong running fourth from Das after Hyman dropped out due to an off-moment.
Lawson eventually made the move on Muth to win the race with the Belgian then fending off Auer and Armstrong to keep second with Cameron Das completing the Top 5 ahead of Kotaka, Petrov, Williams, Hyman and Leitch.
Position 11-16: Ptacek, Smith, Florescu, Gore, Locke and Walls. The Race 3 was another dominant show from Armstrong from pole as he took the win at ease despite a late charge from Petrov, who gained places due to other mishaps.
While Armstrong led the way, teammate Auer had Lawson on his tail soon. A safety car period for the incident between Gore and Florescu got them together as Lawson tried a move on re-start but it didn’t come off when they made contact.
It was it for the Kiwi which lost him the championship leads as well. The race was stopped for some time but it got underway cleanly as Armstrong led Auer, Petrov, Leitch and Das in the Top 5. While Auer battled Petrov, Leitch also had a pack of cars behind.
The Kiwi lost out to Das as Hyman and Ptacek had their share of bad luck in the fight when both dropped off to bring Muth and Kotaka in the game. At the front though, Petrov stayed on Auer’s tail but it was anti-climatic when Auer slowed down and pitted.
It put Petrov in second with Armstrong crossing the line in front. Auer’s misery helped Das to take the podium with Leitch and Muth completing the Top 5 ahead of Kotaka, Williams, Walls, Smith and Hyman in Top 10 at Hampton Downs final race.
Position 11-15: Locke, Ptacek, Florescu, Gore and Auer.