Supercars star Shane van Gisbergen claimed an emphatic victory in the opening race of the Toyota Racing Series at Hampton Downs on his return to single-seaters.
Competing as a wildcard in the first round of the New Zealand-based summer series, van Gisbergen finished third in final practice before qualifying on the front row for Race 1 alongside three-time Porsche Carrera Asia Cup champion Chris van der Drift.
The reigning Bathurst 1000 champion didn’t get the best of starts as the 20-lap race got underway, but managed to hold second position as the field made its way into Turn 1.
Having covered off the initial threat, van Gisbergen spent the first few laps in the shadows of van der Drift, who appeared to be in control of the proceedings.
But the M2 Competition driver slowly started carving into the lead of his countryman and was finally able to pull off a move going into the Dipper on lap 6.
Once out in front, van Gisbergen was able to do enough to keep van der Drift at bay, taking the chequered flag with a winning margin of 0.579s.
“I’ll have to sort my starts out,” he explained after the race. “I managed to get past him and took the only chance I got and it worked out really well. Twenty eight laps tomorrow is going to be a long way.
“We’ve been making a few tweaks and the car is almost there but there’s a little more to come. It’s going to be awesome tomorrow and qualifying in the morning is going to be really important
Matthew Payne took the final spot on the podium in third after a long battle with TRS regular Brendon Leitch, who was fortunate to hold onto fourth from Kaleb Ngatoa after falling behind the leaders later in the race.
Andre Heimgartner was unable to match the performance of his Supercars colleague van Gisbergen, ending up sixth and just half a second ahead of the next driver in the standings, Daniel Gaunt.
Van Gisbergen will start the second race of the weekend from pole position after setting the fastest overall time in qualifying, which was 0.067s quicker than van der Drift’s best effort.
A second qualifying session on Sunday will determine the starting order for the New Zealand Grand Prix.
Toyota Racing Series – Hampton Downs
Catch all the action from New Zealand’s premier single-seater series with qualifying and three races across Saturday and Sunday.
WATCH HERE: https://motorsport.tv/livestream
*Available worldwide except New Zealand
Source: Read Full Article