Mitch Cunningham in action Mitch Cunningham in action CREDIT: Toyota Racing Series

Two poles, all three races and the Trophy fall to Auckland driver

Sunday 25 January 2009, 4:25PM
By Toyota Racing Series


Pole positions in two races and victories in all three TRS races have delivered Mitch Cunningham the TRS International trophy, a consolidated lead in the main points race, and put his name on the prestigious Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy.

At the Taupo A1GP event, 22-year old Auckland driver Cunningham fought off strong challenges from New Zealand and British drivers and won every race for New Zealand’s premier single-seater category in a dominant performance.

Though conditions on Sunday were as hot as the day before, Cunningham said the 20-lap race distance was relatively easy, and he had worked throughout to keep a safe margin between his biofuelled Placemakers car and the second-placed car of Will Stevens.

The difference on his rookie year, he said was mainly race experience: a year of TRS followed by racing in the USA having honed his mental toughness as well as his ability to focus on his race and series strategy.

For the second race in a row Stevens chased Cunningham hard over the whole distance, but was not quite able to get close enough to challenge for the lead. He finished 2.274 seconds behind Cunningham.

“Mitch drove a really good clean race, and though a win would have been great I’m happy enough to take second in that race.”

The final points margin in the TRS International Trophy were Cunningham 615, Scott Pye 504, then Stevens 481, his second place in today’s race good enough to overtake Michael Burdett to be third in the Trophy.

Burdett posted fastest lap of the race, a 1:25.676 on lap 16 with an average speed of 147.066 kph. He finished third overall, 4.532 seconds behind winner Cunningham.
The most spectacular moment of the feature race belonged to rising star Andrew Waite, who spun dramatically but recovered to continue.

It was emphatically Cunningham’s weekend, from the first race when he chased down pole man Sam MacNeill and pressured him into a last-lap error that handed over the lead through the flag to flag win in the Sunday morning sprint race to a similar performance in the feature race for the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy.

“The team has worked really hard on the set-up and it’s working for us now. That [feature race] was a good one and it sets us up very well for the Grand Prix next month.”

Cunningham’s team, Giles Motorsport brought arguably the best race set-up to Taupo, with Cunningham and second-placed Stevens running away from the field in the feature race.

ENZED/Motorsport Solutions have improved the set-up on Michael Burdett’s car, enabling him to reclaim the form he showed at the end of the 2007-2008 series. The new car speed delivered him three podium positions and keeps him in the title points race.

The European technique cars of Scott Pye and Andy Knight struggled for form throughout the weekend.