2010 Toyota Racing Series (Round 2, Timaru Raceway, January 23rd-24th)

Timaru Raceway map

Race One
Following a wonderful opening round at Teretonga Park, 15 year-old Mitch Evans once again set a stunning pace at the head of the eleven car field at New Zealand’s Timaru International Raceway. So fast was Evans’ run in the opening 12 lap salvo, that the fastest lap was broken five times during the race. The Auckland youngster was not the only driver setting purple laps though as Sten Pentus, Daniel Jilesen and Lucas Foresti also registered laps under the previous lap record.

By the end of the the first race Evans had taken a seemingly easy run to the flag from pole, however a closer examination of the run would tell a story of constant rearward pressure from Pentus, the surefooted Estonian. Lucas Foresti was initially looking good for a solid run from his third place starting, but a swift move by Jilesen on the opening tour dropped the Brazilian to fourth place – a position he would be locked in until the chequered flag.

Although Foresti couldn’t pressurise a way passed Jilesen, he in turn was in no danger of action from behind as the mid pack busied themselves with their own battles.  A rough early pass for 5th by Alastair Wootten on Andrew Waite led to Stefan Webling spinning his Triple X Motorsport car on to the grass; he recovered, but dropped to the rear of the field. More serious however, was a spin Jamie McNee on the seventh lap – the young Kiwi spun around completely and stalled the engine as his Neale Motorsport machine faced oncoming traffic. With McNee unable to move, the safety car emerged and neutralised the field while the on track recovery took place.
It remained static until the green flag dropped at the beginning of lap 10 and the pack get off without a hitch – all that is, except Waite who grasshopped over the turn 1 run off and falls to last. In the end, it was an easy win for Evans and one where the young man set a lap record that was nearly one second faster than the previous best; indeed Pentus, Foresti and Jilesen all recorded laps under the previous record. A ferocious pace and it should be interesting to see if that can be maintained.

Toyota Racing Series (Round 2, Race 1)

  1. Mitchell Evans    13:41.550
  2. Sten Pentus           0.697
  3. Daniel Jilesen        2.013
  4. Lucas Foresti         2.591
  5. Alastair Wootten      3.217
  6. Earl Bamber           3.500
  7. Andrew Waite          5.406
  8. Nathan Morcom         6.676
  9. Stefan Webling          (R)
  10. Jamie McNee             (R)
Race Two
Evans would not be able to repeat his race 1 result for the following days feature. A damp track would see Evans and Foresti both wheelspinning off the line and down the order, while Pentus launched himself into a commanding lead. Earl Bamber had a great start too – after a rather anonymous opening event, the young Kiwi jumped from 7th to 3rd position by the first turn and had even stolen 2nd spot from Jilesen after one full lap.

An intense battle ensued between Jilesen and Alastair Wootten for third; a battle that would see both drivers go offroading on the entry into turn 2 twice during the event – although Jilesen held ground the first time over the grass, Wootten would eventually grab the position on the fifth lap. Bamber also took to the grass to try and find a way by the race leader – attempting move around the outside of the long Steel corner, Bamber’s right front tyre grabs a wet patch and is guided onto the grass; however he holds on and rejoins.
Further down the pack, Evans was also having a heated battle with Waite, McNee and Foresti and as McNee pushes hard on the exit of turn 1, he throws his Neale Motorsport car onto the grass, but manages to save it. He wasn’t quite so lucky a few laps later though – nearing the halfway point of the race, McNee goes wide chasing down the pack in Waldron Hairpin, touches the barrier and comes to a halt near the track verge. Safety car (again).

The safety car period is short and the race restarts on lap 11 and Bamber instantly reattaches himself to the tail of Pentus, eventually forcing a way passed him the next lap around. It soon becomes quite clear that Pentus is struggling on worn tyres, as his wet Michelin rubber overheats on the rapidly drying surface and soon his mirrors were being filled by the Wootten in his Dart International machine. Wootten, meanwhile had escaped the clutches of Jilesen following their earlier run-in; in fact, Jilesen had begun to fall backwards and was passed first by Webling and then Evans, before eventually finishing 8th. With five laps left, Webling unwilling to sit idly behind the 3rd placed driver, dived hard down the inside of Wootten – a risky manoeuvre that momentarily saw Webling sliding sideways out of control, yet he had just enough grip to spare to solidify the move. Webling would attempt a move on Pentus with two laps remaining; however the Estonian moved hard on the third place man, cutting across Webling’s front end – Pentus would hold onto the runner-up position, but in a manner that raised many eyebrows on the pitwall.
Andrew Waite was soon grabbing positions up the order – having held onto his tyres for most of the race, late race passes on Evans and Wootten. Sadly for Lucas Foresti, the Brazilian had an awful time – after an invisible race near the back end, Foresti clattered his front wing requiring a replacement on the penultimate lap.

There were no such worries for Earl Bamber though as he eventually took the feature race by five seconds ahead of Pentus and Webling. After a disappointing time at Teretonga Park in round 1, there is a real feeling the Bamber’s championship charge starts here.

Toyota Racing Series (Round 2, Race 2)

  1. Earl Bamber       24:20.872
  2. Sten Pentus           5.679
  3. Stefan Webling        5.960
  4. Andrew Waite          6.919
  5. Alastair Wootten      9.464
  6. Mitchell Evans       14.663
  7. Nathan Morcom        16.346
  8. Daniel Jilesen       22.288
  9. Lucas Foresti           (R)
  10. Jamie McNee             (R)
Race Three
As the the final race of the weekend got under way, more rain arrived making already difficult conditions even harder to deal with; however with Evans on pole for the third race (the top 6 of race two are reversed), this race should have been his – and it almost was. A poor start from the young Kiwi saw him passed by Alastair Wootten approaching the first breaking point, but it was an off at the long McKissock Curve that dropped Evans into the pack. Championship challenger Earl Bamber couldn’t have had a more different start to race – getting off the line from 6th spot, the 19-year-old had climbed to second place most of the way through the lap, before taking the lead exiting the final corner.
From here, Bamber was a distant shadow for much off the race, especially after Wootten himself slid off the road at turn 4; however the battle behind him for 2nd to 6th places was quite immense. As the slick Michelin’s struggled on the damn surface, Jilesen, Webling and Webling regularly swap positions – each of them getting out of shape at some stage or other. The battle between the trio slowed them considerably and let Evans back into the party.

As one driver began to struggle following a short burst of speed, another would pass before inevitable suffering the same issues – first second placed Waite, then Jilesen, before Webling fell back. Evans on a charge takes them all one by one and with only three laps remaining, moves in on Bamber; the battling trio are left to fight amongst themselves, while also keeping an eye of Pentus in 6th position.
Crossing the start/finish line, the gaps dropped considerably; first it was 2.7 seconds (lap 8), then 2 seconds (lap 9), before it was torn down to 0.2 second (lap 10). Both Bamber and Evans lead the way in the final couple of laps with the later constantly on the race leader’s tail – across the line to start the final lap, the gap was 0.1; this was Evans’ last chance.
Bamber defended for all his worth as Evans could not take the lead through turns 1 and 2, but as the young man tries around the outside of left leaning John Jones corner, his car snaps right, skates across the damn grass and slams hard into the tyre barrier ripping off two wheels. Evans, disconsolate, climbed out of his broken car unhurt as the red flag flew bringing the race to a premature end. With the race stopped early, the order across the line at the penultimate lap is classified as the result, ensuring Evans still claimed second place.

Toyota Racing Series (Round 2, Race 3)
  1. Earl Bamber       12:24.299
  2. Mitch Evans           0.157
  3. Andrew Waite          1.949
  4. Daniel Jilesen        2.185
  5. Sten Pentus           4.000
  6. Alastair Wootten      4.848
  7. Lucas Foresti         8.339
  8. Jamie McNee          10.221
  9. Stefan Webling       2 laps
  10. Nathan Morcom           (R)

Difficult conditions made the races very good races Timaru Park, especially the drivers struggled to figure out the longer, curving sections with next to no grip; however it is just unfortunate that the weekend finished under the shroud of a red flag. In the Championship, Evans closed in on Pentus with a gap of just five points and with the series heading towards Hampton Downs in two weeks, the young man needs to take advantage. Bamber, however, has laid down a marker for both Evans and Pentus to be wary of, having jumped from 5th to 3rd in the standings.

Toyota Racing Series (Round 2)

  1. Sten Pentus          379 points
  2. Mitch Evans          374
  3. Earl Bamber          352
  4. Daniel Jilesen       333
  5. Lucas Foresti        310
  6. Andrew Waite         301
  7. Alastair Wootten     254
  8. Stefan Webling       237
  9. Nathan Morcom        219
  10. Jamie McNee          169
  11. Chris Wootten         66

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