Two races, two different winners, Russian drivers to the fore: M2 team driver Ivan Lukashevich is the second Toyota Racing Series winner at the New Zealand Grand Prix weekend, driving a determined race to lead from pole to the chequered flag in this morning’s 12 lap TRS race.
Sixth place in yesterday’s race put the young Russian driver on pole for the first TRS race today and he made no mistake, defending the lead through a red flag restart after Australian driver Jordan Skinner spun off at Dunlop corner.
From the race start, Saturday race winner Daniil Kvyat forced his way through from sixth to be fourth and then third, slotting in behind Mario Farnbacher and ahead of Nick Foster.
Lukashevich pushed out a small advantage over Farnbacher, who found himself defending his position from a charging Kvyat. On the next lap Jordan Skinner spun off at Dunlop, causing a full circuit yellow flag deployment and then a red flag for a restart.
The field restarted in line astern but for Lukashevich the restart meant his hard-won gap over Farnbacher was gone.
“It was a lot of pressure having to defend from Mario and Daniil off the restart but then Mario stalled and Daniil came through. I was happy to keep them behind down to the first corner,” he said later.
International Series winner and TRS Series leader Mitch Evans was close behind Kvyat and forcing the young Russian to defend his position, which helped Lukashevich keep the lead.
Invercargill’s Damon Leitch made the most of the restart, forcing his car onto the tail of Nick Foster and then overtaking him to hold fourth.
Foster gave up a further two places to be seventh.
Evans made a clean mid-corner pass on Kvyat at Toyota corner, the pair emerging side by side on the run to the esses before Evans pushed through to hold second. Kvyat made several runs at the flying Kiwi before opting to make sure of third and a share of the podium points.
Leitch’s fast race came apart on the final lap, his car developing a misfire that pushed him down the order from fourth to eighth, leaving the order at the chequered flag Lukashevich, Evans, Kvyat, Scott Pye, Josh Hill, Nick Cassidy and Jamie McNee.
Lukashevich also posted fastest lap, a 1:04.506 on the penultimate lap of the race.
The final TRS race of the weekend is the 56th New Zealand Grand Prix, held over 30 laps starting at 3.00 pm this afternoon.