Roman Bilinski has thrown down the gauntlet in the Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship, taking a dominating win in the season-opener at Taupo International Motorsport Park.
M2 Competition’s Polish driver jumped pole-sitter Christian Mansell off the line before holding off a spirited challenge from the Australian to pull clear for a comfortable 6.131-second victory.
Mansell, himself a Formula 3 podium placer at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps, kept the pace with the leader over the opening laps as the front two put a gap on the field but eventually fell back to finish a lonely second, 3.6 seconds ahead of Michael Shin, who rounded out the podium.
Kaleb Ngatoa jumped Liam Sceats off an early safety car restart and challenged Shin through the mid-stages, but the South Korean driver held firm to earn his podium spot.
The race’s only caution came on Lap 1, with Landan Matriano Lim’s right rear collecting a stalled Nicola Lacorte as he attempted to drive around. Matriano Lim spun as a result, while Lacorte came to a stop with left-rear damage at pit exit.
On a damp surface, Bilinski came under pressure from Mansell off the restart but defended well to retain the lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
Gerrard Xie was the sixth car home, having started third, crossing the line 1.8 seconds behind Sceats.
Tommy Smith finished seventh, ahead of Alex Crosbie, who impressed in his debut outing. Lucas Fecury was ninth, some 13 seconds behind the Kiwi. Australia’s Elliott Cleary rounded out the top ten.
Kaden Probst was classified 13th, his race compromised by a late off-track excursion while running a lonely ninth. The Formula Open regular had driven a clean race until that point and made an impressive start in his rookie season.
Canadian Patrick Woods Toth, expected to be a front-runner, faced further difficulties after an electrical issue hampered his qualifying, forced to return to the lane with four laps remaining.
The Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship returns for two races on Sunday, with a qualifying session to start the day at 10.04 am.
Coverage of the New Zealand Historic GP will be shown live on Sky Sport from 10.00 am.
CTFROC Race 1 Results
|Landan Matriano Lim
|Patrick Woods Toth
Header Image: Bruce Jenkins (Toyota Gazoo Racing)