Defending Toyota International Racing Series Champion, Daniel Gaunt (Auckland), has won a thrilling Lady Wigram Trophy race from overall Round 1 winner Ben Harford (Wellington).
Defending Toyota International Racing Series Champion, Daniel Gaunt (Auckland), has won a thrilling Lady Wigram Trophy race from overall Round 1 winner Ben Harford (Wellington). The two drivers diced for the entire 25 laps to record the closest Toyota Racing Series finish ever as they were separated by a mere 0.172 seconds as they crossed the finish line. Harford also set the fastest lap time for the race although it was not as quick as the new lap record he posted earlier in the day.
Gaunt made his move from his front row grid position as he got the better of pole sitter Harford to claim the lead before the first corner. Harford then clung to Gaunt but finding a way past proved too difficult despite three overtaking attempts which saw both cars racing side by side.
Great Britain's Ben Clucas came home 3rd followed by Shane Van Gisbergen (ManukauCity), Andy Knight (Christchurch) and Hamad Al Fardan (Bahrain). The top ten was completed by Italian driver Edoardo Piscopo, Marc Doran (Queenstown), Earl Bamber (Wanganui) and Daynom Templeman (Whakatane).
Bamber's performance was notable as it is the first long race for the rookie teenager who gained several places after a good start but fell back to 9th after more experienced drivers found their way past.
As if the duel for the lead was not exciting enough, several other battles ensued throughout the field which saw several desperate overtaking maneuvers, especially by Van Gisbergen and Knight. Although racing was some of the closest seen, only one incident occurred when Will Thomason (Wellington) and Nelson Hartley (Palmerston North) came together at the end of the main straight but no safety car deployment was necessary.
Earlier in the day, Ben Harford won both 12 lap races from pole position with Clucas, Al Fardan, Gaunt, Knight and Van Gisbergen finishing both races in that order. Harford was challenged by Clucas in the early stages of the first race but his superbly handling car had the measure of the field to totally dominate.
Gaunt was understandably thrilled to claim his second Lady Wigram Trophy win:
"It was always going to have to happen off the start as Ben (Harford) has been quick here all weekend. It was a confidence boost to get the lead but it was tough as he pushed and attacked me for the whole distance" he explained after the podium ceremony.
Overall International First Round winner, Harford, also stated his intentions for the next round at Taupo in a fortnight:
"Win, win, win - I really like Taupo and won the last race there - it's a cool circuit. I know the car will be set up right so we intend to win and maintain our lap record there" he said after the race.
Ben Harford now leads the International Series on 222 points ahead of Ben Clucas (194), Daniel Gaunt (183), Hamad Al Fardan (165), Andy Knight (147) and Shane Van Gisbergen (144).
Daniel Gaunt maintains his lead in the overall National Toyota Racing Series with 562 points followed by Ben Harford (514), Ben Clucas (479), Andy Knight (442), Hamad Al Fardan (403) and Shane Van Gisbergen (361).
The next round of both series will take place at CentennialPark at Taupo as support races to the high profile A1GP series from 19th to 21st January.