Cunningham scores historic win in Toyota Racing Series Twenty-year-old Wade Cunningham, the 2003 World Karting Champion, created his own piece of history in the second round of the new Toyota Racing Series when he set the fastest qualifying time...
Cunningham scores historic win in Toyota Racing Series
Twenty-year-old Wade Cunningham, the 2003 World Karting Champion, created his own piece of history in the second round of the new Toyota Racing Series when he set the fastest qualifying time and then took a convincing race win at Teretonga on Saturday 15 January, where the new Toyota race cars were competing as part of the fourth round of the Mike Pero MotorSport Series.
After winning many New Zealand karting titles and then the world title, Cunningham has spent the past season in the United States, where he took fifth place in their Formula Ford series and secured pole position five times. The Toyota Racing Series sees Cunningham competing in a race car, rather than a kart, in New Zealand for the first time, so not only has Cunningham set his first-ever pole position in a race car in New Zealand, he's also won his first-ever race.
The debut of the Toyota Racing Series was held in Timaru on January 8 in extremely wet conditions, so all 17 drivers in the series were delighted to wake to blue skies in Invercargill for their official qualifying session and first 12-lap race.
During the 20-minute qualifying session, the 'young guns' obviously relished the dry, fast track conditions with 15-year-old Brendon Hartley from Palmerston North posting the fastest times during the first few laps of qualifying. Several drivers commented that they were still coming to grips with the 1800cc Toyota Tatuus race cars, particularly as this was their first time at Teretonga and their first official qualifying session in the dry with the specified Michelin slick racing tyres.
By the end of qualifying, Aucklander Cunningham had posted the quickest time of 55.600 seconds, with Hartley posting 55.893, then James Cressey, age 20, with 55.938 and Daniel Gaunt, age 19, with 56.054.
Cunningham made a fast clean start, leading the 17-strong field into the first corner, a long looping left-hander. "I had the inside line and got a good start although I had a little too much wheel spin," said Cunningham. "Having secured pole position, I planned to lead from the first lap as it's easier to lead from the front. I knew our pace in the dry was good, having sorted out some small problems with the car yesterday."
Starting from second place on the grid, Hartley commented: "I had a bad start with a lot of wheel spin. That let Daniel (Gaunt) through into second and it took me a while to get past Daniel. I thought if I get my head down I could catch Wade, but he had the pace. I think if I get a good start next time, it will be okay."
Having qualified in sixth place, last weekend's Toyota Racing Series round winner, Brent Collins was another who made a good start. Collins slipped between Matthew Hamilton and James Cressey, racing three abreast into the first corner and taking fourth place until the fourth lap when he spun on the corner coming into the start-finish straight, dropping him back into eleventh place. Collins continued racing hard to the end, setting a new lap record for this class with a time of 55.657 on the last lap of the 12-lap race.
Within five laps Cunningham and Hartley extended their lead over the rest of the field and finished in that order, with Gaunt, Pither and Ben Harford rounding out the top five.
<pre> 2005 Toyota Racing Series, Round 2, Invercargill
Official Qualifying, Saturday 15 January
Pos Driver Hometown Qualifying Time 1. Wade Cunningham Auckland 55.600 2. Brendon Hartley Palmerston North 55.893 3. James Cressey Auckland 55.938 4. Daniel Gaunt Auckland 56.054 5. Matthew Hamilton Christchurch 56.078 6. Brent Collins Timaru 56.112 7. Chris Pither Palmerston North 56.209 8. Ben Harford Lower Hutt 56.226 9. Andy Knight Christchurch 56.229 10. Tim Edgell Auckland 56.831 11. Duane Spurdle Auckland 56.890 12. Ken Smith Auckland 56.917 13. Mark Munro Christchurch 57.042 14. Kim Crocker Tauranga 57.065 15. Walter Grubmuller Monaco 57.156 16. Fiona Hamilton Christchurch 57.499 17. Ben Crighton Auckland 57.697
Race 1 (12 laps, grid start)
Pos Driver Hometown Fastest Lap 1. Wade Cunningham Auckland 55.751 2. Brendon Hartley Palmerston North 55.812 3. Daniel Gaunt Auckland 56.023 4. Chris Pither Palmerston North 56.024 5. Ben Harford Lower Hutt 56.215 6. Matthew Hamilton Christchurch 55.957 7. Andy Knight Christchurch 55.954 8, Ken Smith Auckland 56.823 9. Walter Grubmuller Monaco 56.888 10. Kim Crocker Tauranga 57.055 11. Brent Collins Timaru 55.657 - lap record 12. Ben Crighton Auckland 56.802 13. Fiona Hamilton Christchurch 57.391 DNF James Cressey Auckland 57.212 DNF Mark Munro Christchurch 57.960 DNF Duane Spurdle Auckland 58.046 DNS Tim Edgell Auckland