From the beginning it was a battle between the two M2 Competition teammates, Lando Norris (16, UK) and Jehan Daruvala (18, India) and fifteen laps later Daruvala had claimed the race victory by the narrowest of margins.
The Indian driver is a protégé of the driver development academy set up by Vijay Mallya’s F1 team Force India and is coached by Oliver Rowland, who recently won the Renault 3.5 litre title in Europe.
Going into the first turn Norris lost the advantage to Daruvala but regained control on lap two only to be slowed down by the safety car after Devlin DeFrancesco (16, Canada) spun out on turn one.
Two drivers, Bruno Baptista (18, Brazil) and Kami Laliberte (16, Canada), fell victim to the severe turn seven during the fifth lap then promptly afterwards on lap nine Julian Hanses (18, Germany) lost control on turn one.
When the race resumed it was Jehan Daruvala that firmly claimed the lead with Lando Norris hot on his heels.
Before the race Lando Norris was hoping for a wet track: “I’m hoping it stays wet, I enjoy driving in the wet more than the dry because I’m from England.”
Unfortunately for Norris the track remained mostly dry for the duration of the race.
To determine the grid line-up for race number two tomorrow, the winner of race one, Daruvala, was lucky to draw marble ‘4’ creating a lineup of: Pedro Piquet (P1), Antoni Ptak (P2), Lando Norris (P3) and Jehan Daruvala (P4).
The marble draw partial reverse grid system is modelled on what a lot of championships do in Europe which makes it familiar for the drivers heading up to race there.
Lando Norris has pole for the feature race on Sunday where the drivers will vie for the Spirit of a Nation Cup, which last year was won by local Invercargill racer Brendon Leitch.
Leitch kept pace during race one today finishing a respectable fifth.
Toyota Racing Series, Race #1 Results (Top 10 only):
1. J Daruvala (India) 54.095 secs
2. L Norris (UK) 54.102
3. A Ptak (Poland) 54.688
4. P Piquet (Brazil) 54.856
5. B Leitch (New Zealand) 54.697
6. A Markelov (Russia) 54.505
7. F Habsburg (Austria) 54.425
8. T Buret (France) 54.915
9. G Zhou (China) 55.114
10. N Dapero (Argentina) 54.996