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Triumphs and disasters shared in Toyota Racing Series

26 January 2014

Triumphs and disasters shared in Toyota Racing Series

Estonian Martin Rump leads the Toyota Racing Series by just two points as the field closed right up through a series of ups and downs for the leading drivers at Highlands Motorsport Park today.

He finished the third round just ahead of British driver Jann Mardenborough even though he did not start the final race – his car had been damaged by contact with the wall in this morning’s race.

That low followed yesterday’s high when he scored a clear-cut victory, his first of the championship, and opened a big points lead in the 22-strong field.

For Mardenborough it was the other way round – he crashed out of yesterday’s race but won today’s feature, the 20-lap Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy run in difficult wet conditions.

“I was annoyed with myself in race one but other people have had issues of their own,” Mardenborough said after scoring a narrow victory over Singaporean driver Andrew Tang.

“I’m glad I got the win today but for lap after lap I couldn’t get away from Tang in second. He got a bit close, especially on the last lap when I couldn’t get second gear at the hairpin.

“I was having to drive through the water to cool the rear tyres and the car was moving round quite a lot.”

Tang was pleased with his fourth podium finish of the championship, which includes two victories, but found himself wondering what might have been.

“Another couple of laps and I might have got him,” he said. “But second is still good and I think we won the round overall.”

Invercargill driver Damon Leitch completed a great weekend with third in the final, following a fourth and a second in the first two races. Brazilian Gustavo Lima was fourth.

New Kiwi star James Munro remarkably came all the way from the back of the grid to finish fifth. The Christchurch 17-year-old had stalled on the grid at the original start, which meant he was sent to the rear for the restart.

This morning’s race saw a fantastic display of wet-weather driving by Russian Egor Orudzhev. Much faster than the rest of the field, he opened a big gap and then pulled away again at the restarts after safety-car periods caused by crashes.

Orudzhev said he actually did not like racing in the rain, but he reckoned bravery was the key.

“In the rain you don’t have to be afraid you will slip away,” he said. “I had about five moments [near-crashes], especially on the last lap. It’s a new track and where there’s water there’s no grip.”

Leitch passed several drivers on his way to second: “The restarts were good because the field bunched up again and you could have a go at someone,” he said.

Lima was third, Tang fourth, Swiss Levin Amweg fifth and Munro sixth. Seven drivers did not finish, mainly because of spins.

The championship continues next weekend at Hampton Downs and concludes the following weekend with the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild.

ENDS

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