Richard Verschoor picked up his fourth Toyota Racing Series victory of the season, and the New Zealand Motor Cup, in the final Hampton Downs race after a red flag period reduced the race to an eight lap sprint to the flag.
Verschoor had made a clean get away from pole and built up a 1.5 second lead when the race was red flagged after Brendon Leitch ran into the tyre barriers on the 12th of 25 laps.
The M2 Competition driver controlled the restart well, but couldn?t shake championship leading team-mate Marcus Armstrong this time around. They ran nose to tail for the final two laps, but Verschoor didn?t put a foot wrong and finished 0.383s ahead of the championship leader.
Armstrong had been forced to defend against Robert Shwartzman at the start of the race but held onto second. He briefly managed to pull away from the second of his team-mates and was closing in on Verschoor when a small mistake lost him time, putting Shwartzman back on his tail.
Verschoor also made a mistake, going wide on the marbles thanks to worn tyres.
“At the end I made a little mistake. The tyres dropped off a bit for me,” said the winner.
“The restart was really good actually, I could control the pace. I think it was a really good race. Strong pace, especially at the beginning. Start was decent; not the best. But anyway, we came out on top, so I’m really happy.”
“That’s amazing [my name is on the NZ Motor Cup]. That’s really what I wanted.”
On the restart, Shwartzman came under pressure from Juan Manuel Correa, leaving Armstrong to chase another race win.
Though Armstrong couldn?t take the victory, he still extended his lead to 41 points to Schwartzman, who finished third, and maintained his 100% podium record after benefiting from a five-second time penalty for Correa at the end of race two to move up from fourth to third in that race.
Victory for Verschoor closes the gap to Shwartzman in the title fight to just 29 points, but it will still be difficult for the Dutchman, the only of the three title contenders to not benefit from the Correa penalty, to win the title unless Armstrong non-scores at any of the remaining six races.
James Pull spent most of the race trying to find a way past Charles Milesi, eventually finding a way past after the restart. He took fifth, behind Correa.
Milesi, Reid Harker, and Cameron Das finished sixth, seventh, and eighth, ahead of Clement Novalak, who dropped down the order after a mistake early in the race.??Taylor Cockerton rounded out the top 10.
Results (25 laps)
1 Richard Verschoor M2 Competition 27m58.427s
2 Marcus Armstrong M2 Competition +0.383s
3 Robert Shwartzman M2 Competition +1.887s
4 Juan Manuel Correa M2 Competition +2.970s
5 James Pull M2 Competition +5.940s
6 Charles Milesi MTEC Motorsport +6.369s
7 Reid Harker Giles Motorsport +6.909s
8 Cameron Das Victory Motor Racing +9.111s
9 Clement Novalak Giles Motorsport +10.015s
10 Taylor Cockerton MTEC Motorsport +10.967s
11 Calvin Ming Victory Motor Racing +15.200s
12 Ryan Yardley MTEC Motorsport +15.694s
Ret Brendon Leitch Victory Motor Racing
Pole: Verschoor, 59.669s
Fastest Lap: Shwartzman, 1m00.287s
1 Armstrong 591 ? 2 Shwartzman 550 ? 3 Verschoor 521 ? 4 Novalak 470 ? 5 Correa 447 ? 6 Pull 433 ? 7 Cockerton 331 ? 8 Harker 327? ?9 Ming 317? ?10 Leitch 293