Dutch driver Richard Verschoor closes in on TRS leader Marcus Armstrong
Richard Verschoor’s win in Saturday’s preliminary race in the Toyota Racing Series at Manfeild has closed up the championship fight with just two races, including the New Zealand Grand Prix on Sunday, remaining.
With series leader Marcus Armstrong (Christchurch) finishing fifth there are now only 34 points between the top three drivers.
Armstrong had only qualified seventh, but a good start saw him up to fourth, only to be overtaken by Invercargill’s Brendon Leitch on the last corner of the first lap.
Verschoor from the Netherlands was untroubled in the lead from pole position, followed by Robert Shwartzman (Russia).
“The car was strong. I need another good start in the Grand Prix,” said Verschoor.
Having closed the points gap to Armstrong from 60 to 34, Verschoor says he has not given up on claiming the championship. He will start the Grand Prix from pole position after dominating both qualifying sessions earlier on Saturday.
Shwartzman, who started fourth, narrowly avoided colliding with Charles Milesi at the start, the French 16-year-old, completely missing the start from second on the grid.
“It was very close,” said Shwartzman. “I tried to catch Richard for a while, but then decided not to take any risks.”
Shwartzman will go into the final two races only 15 points behind Armstrong, with Verschoor another 19 further back.
Clement Novalak finished third, while Leitch came home fourth after starting eighth.
Further back 76-year-old Kenny Smith finished 13th in his first race in the latest generation TRS car.
“I got a bit too aggressive half way through the race,” said Smith, who had fallen off the back of a bunch dicing for places at the bottom of the top ten.
“That was the wrong thing to do. I needed to get back to driving smoothly.”
He will start his 47th New Zealand Grand Prix on Sunday.Tags: KNAF Talent First, M2 Competetion, Manfeild, Manfeild Autocourse, Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, Toyota Racing Series