Austrian Ferdinand Habsburg won his first race in a single seater racing car when he took the opening race of the Toyota Racing Series at Ruapuna yesterday.
“It’s my first win in a car,” said a delighted Habsburg after fending off the attacks of English teenager Lando Norris and Russian Artem Markelov.
“My last win was in my last kart race in October 2014 so I am very happy to start the series like this.”
Habsburg had qualified second but out dragged pole sitter Norris to the first corner, with local driver James Munro claiming third after starting sixth.
But an early safety car bunched up the field after Canadian Kami Laliberte went off the track at the first corner. Habsburg slowed and selected a low gear, and again got to the first corner first.
Norris got close to him, setting a new lap record in the process, but then ran a little wide exiting one of the infield corners allowing a close following Markelov to get past.
Munro was out maneuvered by Markelov on the rolling re-start. “I thought I’d shut the door,” said the 18 year old. “But once he got alongside me I gave him some room as I didn’t want an incident in the first race of the series.”
Munro finished fourth, with the other Kiwis, Brendon Leitch and Taylor Cockerton coming home sixth and ninth.
Habsburg will find it more difficult in this afternoon’s Lady Wigram Trophy race as he will start 14th after running out of fuel two laps from the finish of the qualifying session for that race.
“I’m up for the challenge,” said Habsburg, who conceded doing the series last year probably helped his efforts. “I’ve got a good team. I’ve been working with my Kiwi mechanic Andrew Patterson all last year in Europe and that helps too.”
In the support events a returning Andre Heimgartner won the V8 race in his Commodore, while Michael Scott had a maiden victory in the Toyota Finance 86 series.
Toyota Racing Series, Race 1 (Top 10), 15 laps:
1, F Habsburg (Austria);
2, A Markelov (Russia);
3, L Norris (England);
4, J Munro (Christchurch);
5, G Zhou (China);
6, B Leitch (Invercargill);
7, P Piquet (Brazil);
8, J Daruvala (India);
9, T Cockerton (Pukekohe);
10, T Buret (France).