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PlayStation champ wins Toyota Racing Series at Timaru

Sunday 19 January 2014

From PlayStation to real racetracks, Jann Mardenborough has proved himself a winner.

The young British racer got his break into motor racing by winning a Gran Turismo competition from 90,000 other entrants, earning support from Nissan for a campaign in real cars.

Today at Timaru he scored a first and a second in the Toyota Racing Series, giving him the overall round victory and putting him second in the championship after two rounds.

“I’m really happy,” he said. “This is my second time here and it definitely helps to know the circuits and what to expect from the cars.

“I’m learning how to be consistent, which helps a lot in a championship. I’ve finished every single race.

“Nissan set me up and they are backing me all the way. I just need to learn from my mistakes and keep improving. Single-seaters are the best place to learn and I want to see how far I can go in single-seaters, though I also love the GT class.”

And he still likes his PlayStation. “I spent a lot of time on it for a couple of weeks over the Christmas break,” he said.

Mardenborough started today’s first race from pole and led all the way to record his first single-seater victory, although he has also won in GTs.

In the feature race, the Timaru Herald Trophy, the British driver crossed the line third, behind Estonian Martin Rump and Singaporean Andrew Tang. But Rump was penalised for jumping the start so Tang and Mardenborough were elevated one place each.

Tang thereby scored his second victory of the series, aided by the fact that he had seen Rump moving before the start.

“It was pretty straightforward after he jumped the start,” he said. “My speed was there but I was not taking too many risks; I knew the race was mine to lose.”

Tang finished well clear of Mardenborough and Christchurch rookie James Munro, who turns 17tomorrow. Munro, who had scored a stunning victory yesterday in only his second TRS meeting, also finished third overall for the round despite losing time with collision damage to his car in this morning’s race.

Rump was on pole for the feature race but spoiled it by clearly moving before the lights went out. He said he had tried a new starting technique but this had caused the clutch to engage too soon.

But the Estonian has been consistently fast and second for the round enabled him to maintain his championship lead, eight points ahead of Mardenborough. Fast Russian Egor Orudzhev, who had to pit to fix an engine problem during the main race, is third.

“The best thing about the situation is that the pace is really good,” Rump, who was credited with fourth in the feature race after his penalty, said. “I’m trying to keep the car together and not lose any parts.”

In the New Zealand V8 Touring Cars Jason Bargwanna started closing down Nick Ross’s points lead as he won all three races in his Toyota Camry.

The Aussie veteran drove very hard early in the V8 feature race, overtaking Ross with a clean move into the esses and pulling away quickly as Ross’s Holden Commodore suffered a temporary loss of power.

“I really wanted to push to get a big gap before the pit stop to take the pressure off the boys in the crew,” Bargwanna said.

Ross, from Cambridge, was just relieved to finish in second place as a battery failure saw the car stop dead as he came into the pits after the race.

The TL class for the older V8s was won by Lower Hutt driver James McLaughlin, who claimed both races today in his Holden Commodore. But it might be his last win for a while.

“We’ve got no sponsors,” McLaughlin, 27, said. “I’m working overtime between rounds, but winning makes it worthwhile.

“The family is helping out where they can and the team is backing us so well but this might be our last meeting.”

Teenager Brad Lauder from Turua was second overall and local driver John Hepburn third. Lauder’s older brother AJ scored three third placings as Bargwanna’s team-mate in the top category, TLX.

Jamie Conroy from Invercargill won all three Formula Ford races for the third meeting running, with Christchurch driver Michael Collins second each time.

Collins had to battle in each race to pass British-American driver Andrew Hobbs, whose grandfather David Hobbs had been a top sports-car driver.


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