M2 Competition’s Liam Lawson got the better of Ferrari junior Marcus Armstrong to win the 2019 Toyota Racing Series title at Manfeild.
It was a frantic final weekend with the title going right down to the wire between Lawson and Armstrong as the former had the last laugh with a five-second penalty eventually deciding Armstrong’s fate.
The Race 1 on Saturday had Armstrong in prime position at the start when he took the lead pushing pole-sitter Lawson to second as M2 Competition’s Lucas Auer tried his luck on Lawson. Victory Motor Racing’s Brendon Leitch leapt to fourth from seventh.
It was settled up front until a safety car period when MTEC Motorsport’s Kazuto Kotaka ran into the back of Giles Motorsport’s Petr Ptacek. The re-start was clean for Lawson as he challenged Armstrong but the Ferrari junior had the answer in place already.
Armstrong had it under control to win the race and bring the title fight to just one point with leader Lawson in second and Auer completing the podium. Leitch was fourth as MTEC Motorsport’s Calan Willians secured his best finish in fifth.
M2 Competition’s Esteban Muth got the better of teammate Cameron Das to be sixth with MTEC Motorsport’s Petru Florescu, Giles Motorsport’s Raoul Hyman and MTEC Motorsport’s Jackson Walls completed the Top 10 among the 14 finishers.
M2 Competition’s Artem Petrov did not start due to illness as veteran Kiwi Kenny Smith finished 13th. Position 11-14: Dev Gore, Parker Locke, Smith, Thomas Smith. The Race 2 on Sunday had Das under control to pick up his first win.
The American held the lead from start on after dispatching reverse-grid pole-sitter Florescu with the Romanian dropping to fourth as Auer and Muth took second and third respectively, while title contenders Lawson and Armstrong were sixth and seventh respectively.
A safety car for Florescu brought the field together but Das held on while a back and forth fight went on between the contenders with Lawson emerging ahead. Das eventually took it home from Auer and Muth with Leitch securing fourth.
Lawson ended up fifth from Armstrong with Hyman in sixth as Williams, Smith and Kotaka rounded out the Top 10. Position 11-13: Locke, Ptacek and Kenny. DNF: Gore, Walls and Florescu. DNS: Petrov.
The Race 3 ended up being a frantic one with Lawson seeing off his rival to secure his maiden TRS triumph as Armstrong couldn’t win the championship for the third consecutive year – having ended up fourth, third and now second respectively.
Lawson led the way from Auer at the start with the pole-sitter then losing out to a charging Armstrong as well as the Top 3 settled in with Muth and Leitch in the Top 5. A red flag got things at a step when Ptacek went off as re-start gave Armstrong a chance on Lawson.
He held on but behind him Muth passed Auer for third as the Austrian lost out to Leitch as well but a move from Das on Auer proved costly with the two making contact and initiating a multi-car pile-up. A re-start had Armstrong making a move on Lawson to take the lead.
He dropped to fourth but the stewards handed Armstrong a five-second penalty with an incident between Walls and Gore brought the race to a halt once again. The re-start worked well for Lawson as quickly got to second as Armstrong crossed the line first.
With the penalty, he dropped to second with Lawson winning the race and the title as Kotaka took the final podium spot from the finishers Hyman, Muth, Leitch, Locke and Kenny in Top 8. DNF: Gore, Walls, Auer, Das, Williams, Ptacek, Smith, Petrov, Florescu.
Lawson scored 356 points in all with five race wins to Armstrong’s 346 which had five wins as well. Red Bull junior Auer ended up third overall with 270 points after leapfrogging Hyman by two points in the end with Muth rounding off the Top 5.