Look back in History: Buller wins in Timaru (2009)

| Photographer Credit: Bruce Jenkins

Two British drivers came over to NZ compete in the 2008/09 Toyota Racing Series (3/5 rounds).  William Buller and Will Stevens.  Buller immediately made his mark but it was Stevens who went on to finish ahead of him in ninth place and eventually went on to compete in Formula One for both Caterham F1 (2014) and Manor Marussia F1 (2015) team’s. Other drivers to compete in that series included Scott Pye who now competes in Supercars, and Mitch Cunningham who won the overall title.

Early lead in International Trophy goes to young British racer

British racer William Buller is celebrating his first ever single-seater race win after a hard fought Race One victory in the Toyota Racing Series at Timaru.

Buller, 16, lined up on the front row of the grid with team-mate and fellow British racer Will Stevens who had pole.

As the race started it was Buller who got the better start and swept into the lead. Behind him series leader Mitch Cunningham forced his way through from a fourth place start to emerge onto the back straight second overall, pushing pole man Stevens to third.

Cunningham pushed Buller hard throughout the race, and on lap nine almost took the lead when the young Briton had a gearshift problem, but Buller was able to recover and won with a lead of a half second.

When Buller had a gear shift problem late in the race, Cunningham attacked through the turn 1-3 complex and drew alongside Buller’s Rockingham-backed car but Buller was able to defend and retain his lead.

“He had pulled out of the racing line and looked like he’d missed a gear or hit the rev limiter, so I aimed down the inside but he recovered. I got so close, I couldn’t believe he managed to hang onto the lead, but once he got out of the corner things settled down and we just stayed in touch until the finish.”

As the field swept through the first two corners Auckland racer Alistair Wootten made contact with another car and lost his front wing, subsequently pitting for a replacement and rejoining the race.

Hamilton-based racer Michael Burdett, who finished sixth, set a new category and Tier One race lap record for the track, his lap time of 58.890 at an average speed of 144.437 km/h topping the time of 59.031 set by Earl Bamber in March 2008.

Nathan Antunes went off the track on lap 10 of the 14 lap race and was unable to continue, while Adderly Fong spun but was able to rejoin the race.

The second race for the 2009 TRS International trophy takes place at 11.00 am Sunday morning, and is followed by the feature race, over 20 laps, for the Timaru Herald trophy, at 3.05 pm.


Race 1 result (round 2)

1 William Buller
2 Mitch Cunningham
3 William Stevens
4 Scott Pye
5 Sam MacNeill
6 Michael Burdett
7 Daniel Jilesen
8 John Whelan
9 Keeley Pudney
10 Alistair Wootten
DNF Adderly Fong

Mark Baker

Mark Baker has been working in automotive PR and communications for more than two decades. For much longer than that he has been a motorsport journalist, photographer and competitor, witness to most of the most exciting and significant motorsport trends and events of the mid-late 20th Century. His earliest memories of motorsport were trips to races at Ohakea in the early 1960s, and later of annual summer pilgrimages to watch Shellsport racers and Mini 7s at Bay Park and winter sorties into forests around Kawerau and Rotorua to see the likes of Russell Brookes, Ari Vatanen and Mike Marshall ply their trade in group 4 Escorts. Together with Murray Taylor and TV producer/director Dave Hedge he has been responsible for helping to build New Zealand’s unique Toyota Racing Series into a globally recognized event brand under category managers Barrie and Louise Thomlinson. Now working for a variety of automotive and mainstream commercial clients, Mark has a unique perspective on recent motor racing history and the future career paths of our best and brightest young racers.

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