NZ: TRS round two Saturday notes

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

-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