Poland’s Roman Bilinski has won his second Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship race in as many days to claim the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy at Taupo International Motorsport Park.
M2 Competition’s star recruit drove with calculated precision and managed his tyres well for the victory, passing Giles Motorsport’s Christian Mansell over the final laps to take the victory.
Liam Sceats completed the podium, making good ground on the lead two in the final stages but running out of time to truly challenge,
Mansell had qualified on pole for the event but incurred a four-spot grid penalty for his role in a collision with Kaleb Ngatoa in Race 2.
This put Southland’s Alex Crosbie at the front, with Sceats, who had finished just 0.015 seconds behind in qualifying, alongside. Bilinski lined up from third, next to Ngatoa, while Mansell launched off the third row following his penalty.
The Australian immediately applied the pressure, with a great start seeing him move from fifth to second by the exit of Turn 1.
Sceats got the better launch from the front row and led the first lap, while Crosbie was run out wide and dropped to fourth behind Bilinski.
M2 Competition’s Michael Shin was another to make early moves, leaping ahead of Ngatoa and slotting into fifth.
With vastly experienced competitors Mansell and Bilinski behind, Sceats did well over the early stages, initially putting a gap in the field over the early circuits.
Mansell, a podium-placer at Spa and Silverstone in Formula 3, slowly ate into this and took the lead on Lap 4. Sceats would keep pace with the more experienced campaigner, all but affirming his credentials as a championship contender.
Bilinski was focused on managing his tyres behind, and as the two leaders began to fade, slowly started to reel them in, with Crosbie remaining in contact while pulling clear of Shin.
The Polish driver moved to second mid-race and began hunting down Mansell, taking the lead through the final complex of turns with four laps to run.
A late incident for Landan Matriano Lim brought out double-waved yellows on the final circuit but had little influence on the result.
With Mansell’s pace fading, Sceats was back onto his rear for the final lap, finishing only seven-tenths back for a well-deserved podium.
Crosbie backed up his Race 2 podium with a respectable fourth, wrapping up a successful debut weekend in the series.
Ngatoa was classified seventh, while Kaden Probst was 13th.
The Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship returns for Round 2 at Manfeild next weekend.
Header Image: Toyota Gazoo Racing (Bruce Jenkins)