Estonian racer Sten Pentus made good on a troubled morning race when he dominated the 20-lap New Zealand Motor Cup race at Hampton Downs on the weekend
Pentus said the key to his win was getting a good start.
“Getting off the line cleanly with not too much wheelspin and then into the first corner was so important. I was able to go around Mitch [Evans] there and then could drive the race my way,” he said.
Evans chased Pentus but also found himself defending against an attack from Tauranga’s Richie Stanaway.
Stanaway was trying everything he knew to overtake Evans and get a chance to close on Pentus, darting from one side of the track to the other and twice stepping onto the grass at the track side.
As the race continued, the Evans car developed a misfire that slowly dropped him back and allowed Stanaway to challenge for second.
On lap 10 Stanaway made his move and took second place.
Brazilian driver Lucas Foresti followed suit, and Evans began a soul-destroying tumble down the race order. The engine’s misfire did not clear before race end.
Next through was Earl Bamber, and Evans found himself defending his place from Stefan Webling.
“It wasn’t anything we could have foreseen, just something that happens,” Evans said afterward.
The finish order was Pentus, then Stanaway, with a 2.151 second gap between them, then Lucas Foresti another three seconds adrift; putting both international entries in this year’s series on the podium. There were three different race winners across the weekend.
Pentus said the race win was a “huge highlight” of his New Zealand campaign.
The Hampton Downs track, he said, was “excellent”.
“I think all my favourite tracks and corners are in New Zealand! From the first turn at Invercargill through the left-right corners at Timaru and now to such a good track here at Hampton Downs, it has been great.”
“Hampton Downs is very, very good. To make a new track such as this that is safe and yet still gives the drivers a challenge is very tricky.”
Evans retains the championship lead and holds the Toyota Racing Series – and outright – lap record at Hampton Downs with a 1:01.846, set on lap 12 of the second race with a best speed of 153.090 km/h.
The points battle is closer than ever, with Evans’ lead narrowed from 30 to 25 points with Earl Bamber still second overall on 533; Sten Pentus moving back into contention second equal with Bamber and Lucas Foresti a close fourth on 491.
The Toyota Racing Series now moves south to Manfeild near Feilding in the lower North Island for next weekend’s New Zealand Grand Prix, the final round of the International Series.