This week we look back to 2015 and the opening round of the Toyota Racing Series at the Mike Pero Motorsport Park in Christchurch. Yet another soon-to-be Formula One driver Lance Stroll was to mark his name in the history books of NZ motorsport. Stroll became the youngest winner of the prestigious Lady Wigram Trophy. The series included current Formula 2 driver Artem Markelov and Trident F2 team mates Arjun Maini and Santino Ferrucci. The latter in June 2018 was banned from four F2 races (Hungary and Belgium) after making questionable contact with his teammate Maini after the Sprint Race at Silverstone on the weekend of the British Grand Prix. Then his Trident team sacked him citing his behavior and non-payment of monies.
Here’s the race report from that weekend in January 2015…..
Stroll becomes youngest ever winner of Lady Wigram Trophy
Lance Stroll, 16, has become the youngest winner of one of New Zealand’s oldest and most prestigious motorsport trophies.
The young Canadian, who won the Italian Formula 4 championship last year, backed up his opening-race victory yesterday with a win in an incident-packed and close-fought feature race this afternoon.
He sliced through the field to lead in the first lap on a track he said was unpredictably slippery.
There was bitter disappointment for local driver James Munro, who had carved through to be second behind the flying Canadian after eight laps only to spin away his challenge for the race lead.
His place was taken by young Indian driver Arjun Maini, who repeated his lightning form of the first two races, staying clear of major multiple car incidents in the opening laps to build a credible challenge for the podium. In the closing laps he defended his position with maturity when GP2 Series regular Artem Markelov surged through to third and began to erode Maini’s gap.
“I had great advice, we were just trying to get through those crazy opening laps and stay out of trouble and then I was able to come through, I learned a lot from this race and I’m very happy to have second place and be adding to my points,” he said afterward.
The third-placed driver, Artem Markelov, said the heat – ambient air temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius translating to 50 degrees or more in the car – was ‘very tiring’.
“I am very pleased to be third, there were a lot of crashes in the start and I was worried for myself and my team-mates. Now I need to find a pool and cool down!”
Santino Ferrucci took his best result of the weekend, fourth overall.
Pole man Sam Macleod, one of many who spun out of the race in dramatic dusty incidents, fought back to be fifth overall and set fastest lap of the race, a 1:18.236.
The first New Zealand driver was again Brendon Leitch, who finished ninth and three places ahead of a bitterly disappointed James Munro. Damon Leitch had shown early pace but spun off the track while chasing the leaders and ended the race one lap down on the other 13 finishers.