Evans Wins Feature Race, Cassidy extends Championship Lead
3 February 2013
Evans Wins Feature Race, Cassidy extends TRS Championship Lead
• Crash sidelines top
• Incident-marred race frustrating for front-runners
• Lynn “the best driver won on the day”
On the eve of his return to the northern hemisphere to begin a new phase in his career, single-seater racer Mitch Evans capped his one-off 2013 Toyota Racing Series appearance with a win in the prestigious New Zealand Motor Cup at Hampton Downs.
Starting from pole position Evans was harried throughout the race by a charging Alex Lynn, his win challenged again and again by the British driver through a succession of safety car periods.
The most serious of these was the first, when top rookie Jann Mardenborough ran into Italian driver Ignazio D’Agosto, locking his front left wheel into the Victory team driver’s right rear suspension then sliding off the track with his suspension hopelessly bent out of line. His car was too badly damaged to continue.
At the restart Evans once more controlled the race, Lynn falling back and losing any chance to overtake as the track went to ‘green’.
Behind them, a series of battles were being played out, Dennis Olsen pushing through into the top ten to be leading rookie early in the race while Andrew Tang and Tanart Sathienthirakul were edging toward the front. These two, locked in a lap-by-lap duel, were fifth and sixth until the closing laps when Tang slid wide on oil and Sathienthirakul slipped through to be fifth – the results their best for the series so far.
Akash Nandy brought out the safety car when his race car caught fire, bunching up the field once more.
Through this confusion the drive of the event, however, came from Lucas Auer, who had started from pit lane after damaging his car in the opening-lap melee. The young Austrian, second in the championship, blitzed the field, forcing his way through to the leading bunch. By lap five he had overtaken half the field and was ninth.
By race end, Auer had come through to be fourth, taking enough points that Cassidy’s lead is not yet secure and the championship will be decided at the final round next weekend at Manfeild, where the TRS will conclude with the 58th running of the New Zealand Grand Prix.
The race, however, belonged to Mitch Evans, his second win of the prestigious trophy. The final word went to Alex Lynn, who admitted the track conditions and constant restarts were frustrating and had stymied his attempts to chase down Evans but said “in the end, the best driver won today. Mitch did a great job.”