Marcus Dominates Toyota Racing Series Season Opener
Hometown hero Marcus Armstrong set the track alight in the first outing of Toyota Racing Series this weekend, taking two wins and a further podium, propelling the Kiwi to a promising championship lead
Returning to the wheel of the Toyota, following his series debut last year, Marcus launched his title campaign in style with a commanding performance at Ruapuna. With the 2017 Italian Formula 4 title to his name, the 17-year-old was eager to get out on track, to prove his worth against the competitive field of talented young drivers. Benefitting from a wealth of experience gained racing in Europe, the Ferrari protégé returned to his back yard of Christchurch ready to fight for victory.
After rain soaked the twisty 3.3km circuit in the practice sessions, finding relevant track time ahead of the weekend proved to be difficult. Although with experience on his side, Marcus set his sights on honing his skills once the dry, warm weather returned.
Battling with traffic and tricky conditions, the Kiwi ended the session in which he felt he could have challenged for pole, on the second row. Undeterred by this minor setback and with the first points up for grabs Marcus roared off the line for Race 1. Pressured from behind throughout the opening lap, the tenacious teenager masterfully held off the challenge and soon set after Novalak in third. Making his move by lap 4, the Ferrari protégé sealed a podium position for the opening race of the championship. Understanding the value of consistent results, the title-contender was keen to improve on his achievements and rise to the top step in front of the home crowd.
As the summer sun beat down on the Ruapuna track on Sunday morning, Marcus lined up on the front row, with sights firmly on clinching the lead from pole-sitter Clement Novalak. Making a blistering start, Marcus did just that, leaving the rest of the field in his mirrors. Pulling a mighty gap, the local superstar gave a powerful performance to maintain a dominant lead throughout the 15 lap race. Despite the car struggling with overheating in the latter stages, Marcus took the chequered flag and his first win of 2018. Delighted with his efforts, the sweet taste of victory still prominent in his mind, the confident Kiwi turned attention to the illustrious Lady Wigram Trophy race.
“I made a good start, my reaction time was great. The first 6-7 laps were good and the car felt really great. I had the opportunity to just relax at the end a little bit, which was very nice for a change. We will put on some different tyres for this afternoon and will be ready to go”
In a replay of his earlier victory, the Ferrari Driver Academy driver showcased his supreme pace and skill, once more clinching the lead as the lights went out for the final 20 lap race. After such a strong getaway, it wasn’t long before pressure mounted, as the safety car was called to rescue a car stranded on the grid. But boosted by his earlier success and calm composure, Marcus maintained his lead to manage the race with a dominant margin. Claiming an unchallenged victory in front of his home crowd, saw Marcus lift the Lady Wigram Trophy, following in the footsteps of true motorsport greats such as Bruce McLaren and Jackie Stewart.
Speaking of his success, Marcus looks forward to taking his winning momentum through to next weekend:
“It’s fantastic, especially starting from second again, we had the speed and the car felt great. I knew the restart wouldn’t be easy but I managed to get away and maintain the lead. It’s great to do it in front of family and friends. After round one of five, it feels good to be leading but there are four more rounds to go”
Kicking off his campaign with 210 points, 16 points ahead of nearest rival Shwartzman, the championship leader looks ahead to Teretonga, where the Toyota Racing Series will race back into action next weekend on 18th-21st January.