NZ: Toyota Racing Series Manfield, day one

LIGHTS TO FLAG VICTORY FOR HARTLEY IN TOYOTA RACING SERIES Teenage racing star Brendon Hartley made it a 'lights to flag victory' in the first Toyota Racing Series race of the weekend at the fourth round of the new 'wings-and-slicks'...


Teenage racing star Brendon Hartley made it a 'lights to flag victory' in the first Toyota Racing Series race of the weekend at the fourth round of the new 'wings-and-slicks' single-seater motor racing series at Feilding's Manfeild Autocourse today.

The 15-year-old Palmerston North Boys High School student set the fastest time of 1:05.127 during official qualifying in the morning and secured a convincing victory in the first of the weekend's three series races in the afternoon.

The Toyota Racing Series was launched in January this year with competitors driving identical Toyota Tatuus single seater race cars delivering 200 brake horsepower.

Qualifying was held in fine hot conditions on the 3.03-kilometre Manfeild circuit, Hartley setting the pace. Lower Hutt driver Ben Harford set the second-fastest time of 1:05.260 and Aucklander Wade Cunningham, the 2003 World Karting Champion, was third-fastest with a time of 1:05.296. Series points leader Brent Collins from Timaru qualified tenth-fastest with a time of 1:05.931, only 0.804 seconds slower than Hartley, clearly showing the closeness of this new racing formula.

Demonstrating his considerable talent behind the wheel of the 1.8-litre Toyota during the 12 lap race, Hartley got away to a clean start, held the lead from Lower Hutt's Ben Harford around the first sweeping right-hander and steadily increased his lead lap after lap to finish 5.29 seconds ahead of Cunningham in second place, Harford having been penalised for jumping the start.

Behind Hartley, Cunningham and Harford, Aucklander Daniel Gaunt held his fourth-fastest qualifying time to drive cleanly through to fourth place. From tenth, Collins got a great start and within half a lap gained several places. By the end of the first lap Collins was through to fifth place, but dropped back to sixth at the finish with Christchurch's Andy Knight slipping past on the last lap.

Christchurch kart champion Fiona Hamilton was unable to start the race due to a mechanical problem and Aucklander James Cressey appeared to come off second-best in the tight first corner tussles, coming into pit lane to have a punctured tyre replaced and completing the race in last place to secure points.

Young Austrian driver, Walter Grubmuller has returned to Europe and Auckland's Andrew Higgins has taken over the #5 Toyota Tatuus this weekend. Higgins qualified in 16th place and finished in 15th place in his first race.

The Toyotas have two races on Sunday -- one of 12 laps and one of 16 laps. Starting places are determined by lap times in the previous race and Hartley will be on pole for Sunday's first race, followed by Cunningham, Gaunt, Harford and Collins. Hartley's fastest lap, 1:05.842, also gives him the lap record at Manfeild for this new Toyota class.

<pre> Qualifying 1. Brendon Hartley Palmerston North 1:05.127 2. Ben Harford Lower Hutt 1:05.260 3. Wade Cunningham Auckland 1:05.296 4. Daniel Gaunt Auckland 1:05.304 5. Andy Knight Christchurch 1:05.470 6. Matthew Hamilton Christchurch 1:05.664 7. James Cressey Auckland 1:05.708 8. Chris Pither Palmerston North 1:05.774 9. Tim Edgell Auckland 1:05.894 10. Brent Collins Timaru 1:05.931 11. Ben Crighton Auckland 1:06.090 12. Kim Crocker Tauranga 1:06.202 13. Ken Smith Auckland 1:06.629 14. Mark Munro Christchurch 1:07.166 15. Fiona Hamilton Christchurch 1:07.510 16. Andrew Higgins Palmerston North 1:07.510 17. Duane Spurdle Auckland 1:08.267

Race 1 Pos Driver Hometown Fastest lap 1. Brendon Hartley Palmerton North 1:05.842 2. Wade Cunningham Auckland 1:05.992 3. Ben Harford Lower Hutt 1:06.124 4. Daniel Gaunt Auckland 1:06.059 5. Andy Knight Christchurch 1:06.310 6. Brent Collins Timaru 1:06.214 7. Matthew Hamilton Christchurch 1:06.539 8. Chris Pither Palmerston North 1:06.391 9. Ben Crighton Auckland 1:06.672 10. Tim Edgell Auckland 1:06.566 11. Ken Smith Auckland 1:06.982 12. Kim Crocker Tauranga 1:06.992 13. Mark Munro Christchurch 1:07.617 14. Duane Spurdle Auckland 1:07.859 15. Andrew Higgins Palmerston North 1:07.999 16. James Cressey Auckland 1:06.384

-fast company-

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About this article
Series Road racing
Drivers Wade Cunningham , Walter Grubmuller , Matthew Hamilton , Daniel Gaunt , Chris Pither , Brendon Hartley , Ben Crighton
Teams Toyota Racing , HART