Richard Verschoor got his hands on the most famous trophy in local motorsport, the New Zealand Motor Cup when he won the main race of the third round of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series at Hampton Downs on Sunday afternoon.
It was the Dutch 17 year old's fourth win of the series and helps close the gap to Championship leader Marcus Armstrong who finished second.
“It’s amazing,” said Verschoor, who like the other international drivers has had a chance to look at the trophy for the last three days. It used to be awarded for the New Zealand Grand Prix when the event was held at Ardmore and Pukekohe, when it was won by the likes of Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Chris Amon and Keke Rosberg.
“This was the one I wanted to win,” said Verschoor.
Although he has now won four races to Armstrong’s two victories over the first nine races, Verschoor is philosophical about his chances in the series where he still trails the Christchurch driver by 70 points, after failing to finish the Lady Wigram Trophy race at the first round.
“We’re getting good results. That’s all I can aim for.”
From pole position, Verschoor had to fend off a very strong challenge from Armstrong in the first corner. The gap between them did not vary by more than half a second.
Shwartzman was over a second behind.
The race was stopped when the front wing came off Brendon Leitch’s car which then crashed exiting the last corner on lap 13. The team believes the wing was dislodged when another car moved across on Leitch during the melee of traffic going into the first corner at the start. Leitch was uninjured in the accident.
Verschoor controlled the restart of what became a seven lap sprint. Armstrong had one lunge at him after Verschoor ran wide in a corner.
“He made a mistake in turn five, but I couldn’t quite make the pass stick,” said Armstrong. “Maybe I would have been a bit more ambitious if there was more at stake.”
With his eyes firmly on the Championship title, Armstrong said he does not intend to change his approach to the Toyota Racing Series at the final two rounds. He has won twice, finished on the podium at every race to date, and now leads Shwartzman by 41 points.
The Russian trailed home over a second behind the leading pair and despite his runner up position in the series is looking for more at the fourth round at Taupo next weekend.
“I’m getting annoyed with the seconds and thirds,” said the 18 year old.
Castrol Toyota Racing Series, Round 3, Hampton Downs, Race 2, 20 laps.
1, C Novalak (England);
2, R Shwartzman (Russia);
3, M Armstrong (Christchurch);
4, J-M Correa (USA);
5, R Verschoor (Netherlands);
6, B Leitch (Invercargill);
7, J Pull (England);
8, T Cockerton (Pukekohe);
9, R Harker (Albany);
10, R Yardley (Christchurch).
New Zealand Motor Cup, 25 laps
6, C Milesi (France);
8, C Das (USA);
1, Armstrong, 591;
2, Shwartzman, 550;
3, Verschoor, 521;
4, Novalak, 470;
5, Correa, 447;
6, Pull, 433;
7, Cockerton, 331;
8, Harker, 327;
9, Ming, 317;
10, Leitch, 293.