Liam Lawson and Brendon Leitch shared wins in the opening round of 2019 Toyota Racing Series at Highlands Motorsport Park in Otago.
M2 Competition’s Lawson started the 2019 TRS season on a solid note with a win in Race 1 on Saturday after starting from the front-row. He made a quick work of pole-sitter and Giles Motorsport’s Raoul Hyman.
The South African was second ahead of M2 Competition’s Marcus Armstrong who lost his pole after setting his best time under yellow flag. The Kiwi had teammates Esteban Muth and Lucas Auer to give him company in fourth and fifth respectively.
At the front, Lawson had things under control but Hyman soon fell prey to Armstrong with Auer also getting through after the Austrian had cleared Muth, who had Victory Motor Racing’s Leitch and M2 Competition’s Cameron Das on his tail then.
Das lost out in the fight with Leitch passing Muth to fifth where he finished after Lawson took a fine win from Armstrong and Auer with Hyman in fourth. Muth was sixth from Giles Motorsport’s Petr Ptacek in seventh.
The Top 10 was completed by MTEC Motorsport’s Kazuto Kotaka, Das and M2 Competition’s Artem Petrov. Position 11-15: Calan Williams, Petru Florescu, Parker Locke, Dev Gore and Thomas Smith.
The Race 2 saw a reverse grid formation of the Top 6 with Muth on pole from Leitch – the former almost got the place but for a red flag situation for a crash between Petrov and Smith at the back of the field.
The race re-started with Muth keeping his lead from Leitch and ending in front to score his first win but the Belgian was adjudged to have jumped the start which dropped him to fourth as Leitch inherited the victory.
The fight for third had Hyman defending from Auer, Armstrong and Lawson with the South African taking it from the trio – he was eventually promoted to second. A move from Auer on Hyman went wrong which forced the Austrian into retirement.
Armstrong took the final podium position with Leitch in fourth and Lawson rounding the Top 5. The race ended under red flag due to Auer’s crash with Das, Williams, Ptacek, Gore and Florescu completing the Top 10. Position 11-12: Locke and Smith.
Lawson was on song in the wet Race 3 at Highlands Park as the New Zealander made it a double after a supreme run. Lawson passed both Armstrong and pole-sitter Auer to take the lead and then build a 10 second gap to win the final race handsomely.
The safety car start wasn’t to stop Lawson with the pace he had in the wet conditions. With his car only repaired after early crash, Auer struggled a bit as he lost to both Armstrong and Hyman with the duo ending up on the podium.
The Austrian was fourth with Ptacek in fifth as Petrov fended off rivals to end up sixth from Das, Williams, Leitch and Kotaka in the Top 10. Position 11-14: Muth, Smith, Gore and Locke. With Round 1 complete, Lawson (82) leads Armstrong (78) by four points.