Photo: Toyota Racing Series
Nick Cassidy now has a healthy lead in the Toyota Racing Series standings with one round remaining after another race win at Hampton Downs…
Hampton Downs Motorsport Park saw the fourth and penultimate round of this year’s Toyota Racing Series, and while one 17-year-old Aucklander was intent on extending his points lead, another was looking for success as he made his return to the championship.
Mitch Evans had won the previous two TRS crowns prior to his impressive performance in GP3 last year, and is returning for the final couple of rounds this year in an attempt to retain his New Zealand Grand Prix title, which is up for grabs at the final round at Manfeild next weekend.
Mitch was rather unsurprisingly straight on the pace from the word go, and took pole position in qualifying on Saturday. He kept his lead throughout the opening race, winning it by 2.7 seconds over Dutchman Hannes van Asseldonk. Cassidy had started on the front row alongside Evans, but lost out to Hannes at the start and would have to settle for third. Lucas Auer finished fourth, ahead of Raffaele Marciello and Jordan King.
The reverse grid of race two put King and Marciello on the front row together on Sunday morning, but it was Ferrari protege Marciello who would win the race – his first victory in the series. Auer finished second ahead of King, with van Asseldonk fourth. Cassidy was fifth with fellow Kiwi Jono Lester in sixth. Evans was eliminated in a first corner incident.
Evans began Sunday afternoon’s race three from pole, but slipped to third at the start behind both Cassidy and van Asseldonk. After a safety car intervention Evans retook second place from Hannes, and set off after Cassidy. He wouldn’t be able to catch him however, and Cassidy won the race with a margin of 1.28 seconds. Evans and van Asseldonk joined him on the podium, with Josh Hill? fourth, Auer fifth and Nathanael Berthon in sixth.
Cassidy’s points lead now stands at 126 points, with van Asseldonk now up into second place. Damon Leitch has slipped to third after a poor weekend, in which he failed to finish a race in the top ten and retired from the third one altogether. The series title, together with that of the prestigous New Zealand Grand Prix, will be decided at Manfeild next weekend.
PaddockScout Driver of the Weekend: Mitch Evans – On the pace from the off upon his return to the series and the car, though his weekend could have been much better without getting involved in a first corner accident in the second race.