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ETEC Motorsport drivers take positives from wild TRS opener
Old 17 Jan 2012 11:07
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Southland once again lived up to its reputation of extreme weather for the opening round of the 2012 Toyota Racing Series at Teretonga Park in Invercargill.

Competitors experienced sunshine, rain, hail and everything in between as they negotiated treacherous conditions around the 2.54km circuit for three races, including the 20-lap feature race for the ‘Spirit of the Nation’ Cup.

ETEC were well represented on the podium in the opening race, with British driver Josh Hill capitalising on a brief downpour on the warm up lap to catapult himself into the race lead and comfortably win from local driver Damon Leitch.

Hill’s ETEC team mate Jono Lester completed the podium in his first Toyota Racing Series race, with fellow rookie Victor Sendin flying the French flag in seventh.

A wet and drying track for the second race claimed Lester early with the entire field struggling on slick tyres as the circuit dried.

This allowed ETEC’s Shahaan Engineer (India) and Melvin Moh (Malaysia) to rise through the ranks to sixth and eighth respectively, while a call by Hill and Sendin to pit for wet tyres under safety car conditions backfired when the race was mysteriously declared seven laps early due to a freak hailstorm.

The weather conditions only worsened for the 12-lap final race, with victims claimed in all directions and the majority of the early laps spent under safety car.

The race was declared with Hill in fourth position and Lester seventh from the rear of the 19-car grid.

Engineer, Sendin and Moh were casualties in track conditions with zero visibility and rivers forming across certain parts of the race circuit.

Force majeure altered the finishing result to drop Hill to sixth and Lester to 14th; also reinstating Sendin to fifth.

A tough weekend both on the track and logistically for ETEC Motorsport sees the team eager to take the positives from the event into a fresh start at Timaru next weekend.

“This weekend proved that the stars need to align in your favour to string together three trouble-free races in this category, especially with weather like this,” Team Principal Trevor Sheumack explained.

“All of our drivers showed great promise and were caught out just like so many of their rivals.

“These are some of the worst conditions we’ve seen, even by Teretonga’s standards, but we’ve escaped with minimal damage and we can only hope for more consistent weather heading into round two.”

The team now travel to Queenstown for a brief stopover before setup begins at Levels Raceway in Timaru on Tuesday.

Testing commences for the Toyota Racing Series on Thursday with three 30-minute sessions, before Official Practice on Friday, and a qualifying session and three races over the weekend.

ETEC Motorsport is supported in its 2012 Toyota Racing Series campaign by Tyre Plus, Michelin Tyres, Visa Global Logistics, Demon Energy Drinks, Pure Energy and Speedcafe.com

Photo: Jenkins/TRS
Tags: 2012 toyotaracingseries

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