Red Bull Junior team driver Daniil Kyvat has won the 2011 Dan Higgins Trophy at Manfeild near Palmerston North today, becoming the first Russian driver to have his name inscribed on the historic trophy.
Kvyat, 16, led from pole in a straightline sprint for the first corner with series leader Mitch Evans alongside and Australian Scott Pye close behind.
Pole at Manfield is off the racing line and is often referred to as the “dirty” side of the track because of the debris that collects there, but Kvyat perfectly judged the standing start to retain traction and stay a half-length in front of Evans going into the first corner.
“We’ve had a great car all weekend, it’s really had good balance and that showed from the start of the race,” a delighted Kvyat said afterward.
Fastest lap of the race went to Whenuapai driver Nick Cassidy, who had otherwise had a difficult drive that included a spin after contact between his car and that of another driver. Cassidy posted a 1:03.920, only fractions of a second outside the TRS race and circuit outright lap record of 1:03.820 set in 2008 by Earl Bamber.
Pit lane and start line dramas had delayed Bamber (electrical problems on the grid while waiting for the start) and Jamie McNee (stranded in pit lane with a car that would not start).
For the first two laps the leading four were Kvyat, Evans, Pye and UK driver Josh Hill. A brief safety car period then bunched the field up and allowed Mario Farnbacher (Germany) to close up on and overtake Hill for fourth place. Hill found himself under attack from both Farnbacher and Foster, and was unable to defend his position.
Russian driver Ivan Lukashevich also passed Hill and the top six began to consolidate their positions.
Evans put in a concerted effort as the race continued, closing up on the Red Bull car of Kvyat under bakes, but the young Russian driver was able to resist the pressure and stretch his lead each time the pair entered a straight. Both drivers ran up high on the raised kerbing at the start of the front straight during the closing laps, Kvyat’s car leaping high in the air but landing safely.
Australian Scott Pye fell back slightly from the duelling leaders, and by the finish was 2.1 seconds adrift of Kvyat but well clear of Farnbacher in fourth place.
The New Zealand Grand Prix weekend resumes today, with the Toyota Racing Series cars on track at 11.50am for a 12 lap race. The grid positions for this race are decided by finishing positions from race 1 today with the top six reversed, which puts Ivan Lukashevich on pole with Nick Foster beside him.
The 35 lap New Zealand Grand Prix gets underway at 3pm. Series leader Mitch Evans is on pole, with Nick Cassidy alongside him. Scott Pye and Nick Foster make up the second row of the grid, with Kvyat and Josh Hill in the next row.
The New Zealand Grand Prix has been contested by the Toyota Racing Series single-seaters since 2005. This year’s event is the 56th New Zealand Grand Prix.