Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
MSA Formula Champion Lando Norris got the year off to a flying start thanks to a win and a podium in the New Zealand Toyota Racing Series.
The 16-year-old Somerset driver was quickly into his groove for new team M2 Competition in the first round of the Series at Ruapuna Park, Christchurch.
And after backing-up his double pole in qualifying with some top performances in the races, the Bristol Sport Racer has his sights set on yet more silverware.
He said: “It was a really good start to the Series with the two poles in qualifying and I managed to carry that into the races.
“It was nice to get a win in the wet in the first round and put some more points on the board with a third place as well.
“The team did a great job. I’m looking forward to building on this weekend and seeing what we can do.”
Racing against older drivers – with some six years his senior – as well as against drivers who have raced in the Series before, Lando still managed to set the pace in qualifying.
It meant he started the first proper race in pole, although in a flat, rather than staggered start, he was beaten into first place from the off.
While chasing the leader he hit a wet patch on the track and lost some momentum and another place, so had to be content with a third place finish, despite closing in on second in the final stages.
Starting sixth on the reverse grid of the second race, Lando got off to a brilliant start and moved into fourth - and was in third by the end of the first lap.
After a safety car, he moved up another place and then into first.
He was overtaken and dropped back into second but on the last corner took on the leader and managed to pull away for a brilliant victory – and his first win of 2016.
Lando got off to another great start in Race Three and managed to pull away from his nearest rivals to build up a 15 second lead.
When it began to rain, it was deemed too risky to his position to change into wets, but four drivers who did change tyres closed the gap after a safety car.
With three laps left, three drivers managed to get in front of him before he broke a little late and slid across the track and onto the grass. He quickly got himself back onto the track and into third before settling for fourth place at the end.
Frustratingly, the move back onto the track from the grass saw him penalised after the race, dropping him back to 10th.
Despite the disappointing end, Lando was still happy to be sitting third in the table after the first weekend.
He added: “There wasn’t much more I could have done in the final race – it was frustrating to be penalised, as a fourth would have left me with a lot more points.
“We are taking part in this Series for the experience and there are a few things I need to improve on for the next few races.
“But my speed was excellent, so I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do during the rest of the Series as well.”
After the Toyota Racing Series, Lando’s 2016 calendar will see him compete in the dual programme of Euro Cup and NEC in Formula Renault 2.0, while teaming up with Carlin once again for six races in the season’s BRDC F4.