Lando Norris used his head as well as his right foot to take another win in the Toyota Racing Series at Taupo Saturday afternoon.
Norris led home Pedro Piquet as the pair drove away from the field to consolidate their positions at the top of the championship points table.
Norris won the start from pole position on the grid and was never headed, although Piquet followed him closely and seemed to be on the verge of launching a passing manoeuvre as the 15 laps wound down.
“I could have gone a bit quicker in the first laps,” said Norris. “But then the tyres would have gone off more and I need them for Sunday’s first race.”
Like most of the drivers, Norris wants to keep his best set of tyres, which have only done a few qualifying laps, for the afternoon feature race for the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy.
Piquet was certainly quicker than Norris on some parts of the track, particularly under braking.
“I got a good start and got alongside him,” said Piquet. “But you can’t go around the outside into the first corner and he had the inside line.”
Later in the race as Piquet got closer to Norris, he found he could not get close enough in the fast corners, because the front of his car lost downforce following in Norris’ wake.
“The main race will be decided by the start,” said Piquet, who is now 60 points behind Norris in the title battle and nineteen in front of the consistent Guanyu Zhou who was fourth.
Top Kiwi James Munro finished third after another good qualifying performance gave him third on the grid. Zhou pressured him closely for the first five laps, but then the Christchurch 18 year old managed to establish a comfortable gap.
“It’s very difficult to pass on this track,” said Munro so I concentrated on not making any mistakes.”
Over the closing laps he had the luxury of backing off to save his tyres for the reverse grid race this morning (Sunday) which will see Devlin DeFrancesco on pole position with Brendon Leitch of Invercargill alongside him, and Piquet and Norris starting seventh and eighth.
The best battle developed for fifth to seventh places between Jehan Daruvala, Ferdinand Habsburg and Leitch which saw them alongside one another on several occasions, although none of them were able to press home the final advantage and they finished in that order.
Toyota Racing Series, Race 10, Taupo Preliminary, 15 laps.-
1, L Norris (England); 2, P Piquet (Brazil); 3, J Munro (Christchurch); 4, G Zhou (China); 5, J Daruvala (India); 6, F Habsburg (Austria); 7, B Leitch (Invercargill); 8, D DeFrancesco (Canada); 9, T Cockerton (Pukekohe); 10, B Baptista (Brazil) 10.
Points. - 1, Norris, 593; 2, Piquet, 533; 3, Zhou, 514; 4, Daruvala, 512; 5, Leitch, 494; 6, Habsburg, 468.