Young motor racing star, Mark Russ, has shown good pace in the opening round of 2007 Toyota Racing Series at Pukekohe Park Raceway last weekend.
The 19 year old Aucklander experienced a round of mixed results but came away happy with his performance and is looking to capitalise on the knowledge he gained from his first outing.
Qualifying proved to be frustrating as he struggled to obtain the ideal set up for the car and while 15th was not where he wanted to be, he was satisfied to see how close the lap times were. After his team, Victory Motorsport, made adjustments to the car he found himself more competitive in race conditions and quickly moved up to 11th. Eagerness to gain further places saw him brake too late for the Hairpin and drop to 15th but setting the 10th fastest lap time was proof they were moving in the right direction with the car.
Further changes were made for the second race of the weekend and by half distance, Mark found himself advancing up to 5th place from 10th starting grid position. His lap times were also improving to confirm the car was now able to compete better with the front runners but with two laps of the 12 lap race remaining, he was bumped off at the Hairpin by another spinning car which saw him drop well back to eventually finish 11th.
The final 20 lap feature race eventually brought some reward with Mark achieving his first top ten placing of the season with a hard fought 7th place although he acknowledges that his lap times can improve around the daunting Pukekohe circuit:
"The car was really good on Sunday, especially in the first race and the track was also gripping well. I'm still a bit apprehensive at Pukekohe because of my bad crash there a year ago. In fact I was just constantly slower than my team-mate just at that point on the circuit. We can now go onto round two of the series with some confidence that we are getting better pace out of the car" said Mark after the third race.
Round Two of the championship will take place at Powerbuilt Raceway at Ruapuna, near Christchurch, on the 25th and 26th of November.