Norris extends Toyota Racing Series lead
Lando Norris has extended his lead in the Toyota Racing Series after winning this afternoon’s preliminary race at Hampton Downs from Jehan Daruvala and Pedro Piquet.
“I just wanted to control the race,” said 16 year old Norris after taking a flag to flag victory – an unusual occurrence with the dropping of the national flag after the starting lights system had failed earlier in the meeting.
“My start was pretty good. Then I just wanted to be consistent and get more points.”
It was Norris’ third win in three weekends and cement’s his position as the outstanding talent of the Toyota Racing Series.
With his closest rival, Artem Markelov slipping from fourth place to 12th over the last three laps with an off song engine, Norris now has an 81 points lead over Markelov in the championship.
Norris may not have things quite so easy in tomorrow’s (Sunday) NZ Motor Cup race, as he will be starting from second on the grid, after Piquet grabbed pole position in qualifying earlier in the day for that race.
“We may change one or two things on the car,” said Norris. “Depending on track conditions.”
Daruvala tried to pressure Norris at the start. “I was quite close for the first two laps but I couldn’t do anything,” he said. Then it was just a case of keeping the gap to a following Piquet, who dropped away slightly in the second half of the race.
Top local drivers, James Munro and Brendon Leitch finished fourth and fifth, benefitting from Markelov’s late race problems.
They had already made good starts, with Leitch picking up three places on the first lap to grab sixth and then fend off the attention of Guanyu Zhou, who had not got away well from third on the grid.
With his second place, Daruvala has jumped from sixth to third in the points, equal with Leitch, while Ferdinand Habsburg who was third has slipped to fifth place, just one point behind them.
Toyota Racing Series, Race 7, Hampton Downs, 15 laps.-
1, L Norris (UK); 2, J Daruvala (India); 3, P Piquet (Brazil); 4, J Munro (Christchurch); 5, B Leitch (Invercargill); 6, F Habsburg (Austria).
Progress points. - 1, Norris, 455; 2, A Markelov (Russia) 374; 3=, B Leitch, J Daruvala, 349; 5, Habsburg, 348; 6=, Piquet, G Zhou (China) 331.