Drama on the Grid but Tang in Control
Andrew Tang has taken a step closer to the 2014 Toyota Racing Series title with victory today in the Dan Higgins Memorial Trophy race at Manfeild.
Pole man Nick Cassidy had a mechanical issue that forced him off the front row and out of the race, and Tang’s main championship rival Jann Mardenborough was also forced to start from the rear after a mechanical issue on the grid.
Championship contender Egor Orudzhev likewise had mechanical issues and had to start from pit lane, sparking a spirited charge up through the field during the race from the flamboyant Russian.
The race was delayed three times, causing many teams to fret about rising engine temperatures as the cars sat on the grid.
Off the line in the 20 lap race Tang surged into a commanding lead that he just kept extending lap by lap.
Behind him Ryan Tveter was defending his position from a charging Damon Leitch, who had seen his chance to move up the points table and was forced partially onto the grass as he challenged Tveter for second place off the start, then harried him all the way to the infeld hairpin before slipping cleanly past at Higgins.
James Munro and Martin Rump tangled at the esses on the second lap, both regaining the track but Munro with a damaged rear wing.
Tang said afterward it was not a comfortable race. The delayed start had pushed his engine temperatures higher and higher.
“While we were sitting on the start line the team were worried because the car was getting hot. We waited and waited for the start and then I got away okay and went out on my own. To be honest I had been keen to beat Nick Cassidy so it was a pity we didn’t get to race!”
Tang said the race was ‘quite lonely’ once he was in front, even though he was able to focus on putting in lap after lap at record pace. He reset Earl Bamber’s 2008 lap record on the fourth lap with a 1:03.515, then reset his own record on the next lap with a 1:03.407 on the next lap and again on lap six with the new mark of 1:03.276.
“It was hard to concentrate because I ended up too far in front, I prefer to be racing for the result, but it’s a win toward the championship and the team have given me a perfect car, so I am very grateful to Andy and the guys,” he said afterward.
Damon Leitch in second place did his best to close on the flying Tang, but was unable to make an impression.
Steijn Schothorst hunted down Levin Amweg to take over fourth, while Matteo Ferrer put in a strong drive, holding fifth until chased down by Jann Mardenborough who had charged through from the rear of the grid.
Third behind him and chasing hard to win back second place was Ryan Tveter. The challenge from the American forced Leitch to drive defensively in the closing laps and the margin between the two was just .8 seconds.
Tang, meanwhile, would take the chequered flag with a gap of 11.342 seconds.
At the finish Schothorst had moved through to fourth, Amweg fifth and Mardenborough consolidating in sixth to make sure of points for the championship.
The championship standings have been radically reset, with Tang grabbing a strong lead on 685, Damon Leitch and Jann Mardenborough second equal on 648 and Egor Orudzhev fourth on 595 ahead of Martin Rump who is first rookie, fifth in the championship on 575.
Andrew Tang received his trophy from Shane Higgins.
The marble draw for the partial reverse grid tomorrow was held at the podium presentation with race one winner Tang pulling the number six marble. That puts Mardenborough on pole with Levin Amweg alongside. The sceond row is Steijn Schothorst and Ryan Tveter, while Leitch and Tang are on the third row. The next race of the Grand Prix weekend is at 11.00 am tomorrow.