Martin Rump scored an overdue victory as he increased his lead in the Toyota Racing Series at the new Highlands Motorsport Park circuit today.
The young Estonian had gone into the third round of the series leading on points but without a victory to his name after the first six races.
He actually finished first in the feature race at Timaru last weekend – only to be dropped to fourth with a 10-second penalty for jumping the start.
This time there was no such mistake and a good start from place two on the grid got him ahead of pole-winner Andrew Tang before the first corner.
“The first win is always a great win,” Rump smiled. “I did a good start and managed to overtake Tang, and led all through.
“So far I’ve been consistent and I’ve got good points, but I haven’t got a win. I hope there’s more to come; the pace is good.”
Rump now enjoys a solid lead in the series as British driver Jann Mardenborough, who had been a close second, dropped out with a mechanical failure. Fast Dutch driver Steijn Schothorst also failed to finish.
Singaporean Tang ran second all race in another impressive performance; he already has two victories to his credit.
Tall American Ryan Tveter was delighted to finish third -- his first podium ever.
“It seems something clicked here,” he said. “Before I was probably over-thinking qualifying but today I just went out with a clear head.”
The cosmopolitan Tveter has raced in both the US and Europe and reckoned the new circuit near Cromwell in Central Otago had features of tracks from both those continents.
“I’ve raced on a few street circuits and some of the corners here resemble corners on street circuits, and some resemble European circuits,” he said.
“It’s a difficult track but I like that.”
Invercargill’s Damon Leitch was the top Kiwi in fourth, after passing Russian Egor Orudzhev late in the race. Seventeen-year-old Christchurch rookie James Munro, who sensationally won a race at Timaru, came in a good sixth.
Leitch starts tomorrow’s feature race, the Denny Hulme Memorial Cup, from pole after qualifying fastest in the second session, pipping Rump at the last minute.
The championship, with 19 internationals and four Kiwis, continues over the next two weekends and culminates with the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild.
Championship points (provisional): Rump 404, Orudzhev 331, Mardenborough 321, Tang 295, Leitch 293, Schothorst 272, Munro 268.
More information at www.nzracechamps.org.nz
For further information, please contact:
Amanda Tollemache Ph: 021 248 9335
Bernard Carpinter Ph: 0274 528 744