Photo: Toyota Racing Series
Puerto Rican takes early advantage in Toyota Racing Series title battle with victory in the main race at Teretonga season opener…
Felix Serralles showed he will be amongst the drivers to beat in this year’s Toyota Racing Series by taking an early lead in the standings after the opening round at Teretonga.
Lucas Auer had set the pace for much of the weekend and cruised to a maiden TRS victory in Saturday’s race. Defending series champion Nick Cassidy claimed second place with Alex Lynn completing the podium in third.
Serralles finished the first encounter in fourth place, which became third on the grid for the reverse grid second race. He got up to second early on, following home his Fortec Formula 3 teammate Pipo Derani who led from start to finish. Derani’s fellow Brazilian Bruno Bonifacio had crossed the line in third place but was penalised for a jump start. That gave Lynn a second podium finish ahead of Cassidy and Auer.
Serralles had claimed pole for the “Spirit of a Nation” feature race on Sunday and led early on until an attack from Lynn. Side-by-side, the cars tangled wheels at high speed. Lynn spun off onto the grass and into a tyre wall protecting a marshal’s post, rebounding into the air, landing on his side and then rolling upside down and back onto his wheels again. The Englishman remarkably escaped unscathed, and so did Serralles’ car, enabling him to take up the lead again after a red flag period and win the race.
Auer took P2 to leave the Invercargill venue just five points behind Serralles, while Formula Renault racer Steijn Schothorst completed a fine debut weekend with a podium finish. Bonifacio was fourth ahead of Derani, who ends his first weekend in the series in third place in the standings. A poor qualifying meant Cassidy could only manage eighth as he sits fourth in the points, while Lynn’s retirement leaves him seventh in the standings behind Bonifacio and Schothorst but nearly within a win of Serralles in what is promising to be a closely-fought championship.
PaddockScout Driver of the Weekend: Lucas Auer – the Austrian converted his dominance of the early running into victory in race one ahead of more experienced rivals before banking crucial points in the latter two races.
Next weekend: Four more events over the next four weekends completes the TRS season, with the first coming at Timaru.