Wanganui driver Earl Bamber made the most of a late-race safety car period to win the New Zealand Grand Prix today at Manfeild.
Bamber, 21, went wheel to wheel with pole man Mitch Evans and pursued him throughout the first 28 laps of the race. He had slowly closed the gap but was never confident of overtaking the Auckland youngster.
“I was hunting him down but the race was close to ending and I didn’t think we’d have got it in the remaining laps.”
Instead, when Oakura driver Stefan Webling went off at Dunlop, Bamber was able to close the gap during the resulting safety car period while Webling’s car was recovered.
A lap later, Bamber pounced as the safety car returned to pit lane.
“I lined him up and the guys were on the radio from pit lane saying ‘get on that gearbox, get in close, go now!’ I went alongside at the end of the straight and Mitch was slow into the corner so we were side by side, we touched wheels briefly and then I was through, got the gap and went for the win,” he said.
Bamber said for the next five laps he was concentrating on his cornering lines and braking points and watching Evans in the mirror.
“I was counting down those final laps, wishing the race was just one more lap, not five, but it all came out perfectly at the end.”
Bamber said the Grand Prix win was “so special”.
“I think this is the greatest win of my race career so far. Now bring on Taupo and the Championship title!”
His win of the 55th New Zealand Grand Prix also nets him a cheque for $10,000 from Toyota New Zealand.
The winner of the Manfeild round, Tauranga’s Richie Stanaway, also becomes the inaugural winner of the Dorothy Smith Memorial Cup, a trophy donated by the famous motor racing family in memory of racer Ken Smith’s mother Dorothy who passed away during the Manfeild race weekend in 2009.
Though Bamber took the prestigious Grand Prix title, Evans could take solace from second place, valuable points adding to his Championship title pursuit. He also won the four round international component of the Toyota Racing Series and takes home a cheque for $5,000 and a Tissot watch.
Pentus holds the new TRS and outright lap record for Manfeild, a 1:03.801 set in race two today.
The final round of the 2009-2010 Toyota Racing Series takes place at the Taupo race track March 19-21.
Results, 2010 New Zealand Grand Prix
Earl Bamber, Wanganui, 1
Mitch Evans, Auckland, 2
Sten Pentus, Estonia, 3
Richie Stanaway, Tauranga, 4
Daniel Jileson, Raumarunui, 5
Jamie McNee, Wellington, 6
Sam MacNeill, Palmerston North, 7
Andrew waite, Auckland, 9
Ken Smith, Manurewa, 10
Stefan Webling, Oakura, 11
Din not finish: Lucas Foresti, Brazil, 1 lap
Points after four rounds of the 2010 Toyota Racing Series
Mitch Evans 721
Earl Bamber 687
Sten Pentus 660
Andrew Waite 626
Lucas Foresti 536
Daniel Jileson 529
Alistair Wootten 494
Stefan Webling 448
Jamie McNee 369
Richie Stanaway 362
Nathan Morcom 219
Ken Smith 214
Sam MacNeill 156
Andy Knight 78
Chris Wootton 66
14 February 2010.