M2 Competition driver Liam Lawson has won the Dorothy Smith Memorial Trophy feature race for the second year running at Highlands Motorsport Park.
Lawson was untouchable in the 20-lap affair, dominating proceedings ahead of Franco Colapinto (Argentina) and Igor Fraga (Brazil).
It’s the second year in a row that Lawson has won the race after he made history on debut in 2019 when he beat Marcus Armstrong in style. A style that later led to a Red Bull contract.
“It’s pretty cool,” Lawson said.
“I’m feeling pretty tired, to be honest. This is the race I’ve wanted all weekend. Obviously, we won yesterday, but not on track. That’s not how we want to do it.
“We had a good start. I was taking it easy and then I got a bit of pressure so I pulled away a bit. It was a really long race.”
Lawson said the win was especially meaningful, given his long-time backing from Kiwi motor racing legend Ken Smith, who’s mother the trophy is named after.
“Kenny has been mentoring me for the last five years, so it’s a huge honour to win this trophy.”
The race began in dramatic fashion as front-row starter Caio Collet of the Renault Sport Academy returned to the pit lane. It was later found out he still had lingering damage from the incident in Race 2 of the season earlier in the day.
That gave Lawson a free-kick as he duly cruised into the chicane with a handy lead. Colapinto inherited second place while Fraga slotted into third.
Try as they might, the field managed to make their way through the chicane without incident. Axel Gnos clobbered the inside kerb in the back end of the Bus Stop Chicane but managed to continue without collecting another car.
At the end of Lap 1, it was Lawson who led Colapinto and Fraga. Yuki Tsunoda was fourth while Gregoire Saucy lay fifth. Ido Cohen, Lirim Zendeli, Petr Ptacek, Jackson Walls and Oliver Rasmussen completed the top 10.
A mammoth moment for Rui Andrade saw the Angolan driver go wide out of the Southern Loop and go onto the grass. He duly spun around and fell to the rear of the field, just ahead of Chelsea Herbert.
Petr Ptacek made his way up to seventh by passing Lirim Zendeli who was on worn tyres. He was soon hustling to pass Cohen, however, the Argentine was resilient in defence.
Drama struck on Lap 4 when the right rear of Jackson Walls’ began to sag. He returned to the pit lane for repairs and later returned to the race. However, come Lap 12, his car ground to a halt into the Carousel.
As a result, the Full Course Caution came out and the Safety Car was deployed on Lap 13. By then, Lawson had built up a sizeable three-second lead, which vanished in an instant.
Lawson wasted no time on the restart come Lap 16 and immediately skipped away. That was the way it stayed as Lawson cruised across the line to take the win, two seconds clear of Colapinto.
Fraga was third, Tsunoda fourth and Saucy fifth. Ptacek managed to dispatch Cohen on the final lap of the race for sixth. Zendeli was eighth, Emilien Denner ninth and Lucas Petersson the last of the top 10 runners.
Chelsea Herbert, the only other New Zealander in the field, was 16th for Giles Motorsport.
The Castrol Toyota Racing Series heads further south to Teretonga Park in Invercargill. The series will once again contest three races over the weekend culminating in the Spirit of a Nation Cup.
Castrol Toyota Racing Series, Dorothy Smith Memorial Trophy
|1||Liam Lawson||20 Laps|
|17||Oliver Rasumussen||+1 lap|
|DNF||Jackson Walls||Lap 7|