Red Bull Junior driver Yuki Tsunoda of Japan has claimed his first Castrol Toyota Racing Series win at Highlands Motorsport Park.
In a dominant performance from the M2 Competition pilot, Tsunoda went lights-to-flag in Race 2 edging out pole-sitter Oliver Rasmussen and Lirim Zendeli.
“We had a really bad qualifying so I just had to focus on the race,” Tsunoda said.
“It was pretty good. I had confidence in my driving, at the start of the race especially. In the middle to the end [Rasmussen] was quite fast too.
“I just had to trust the car and my engineer to relax and focus on not doing mistakes.”
Tsunoda said he was happy with the result given his problems getting up to speed with the new Tatuus T-318 based Toyota FT-60.
“It’s a new car, a new circuit, so I’m really struggling to adapt to the car. I’m still a bit so so. I tried to adapt as quickly as possible. I’m looking forward to the next race also.”
A reverse top-six put Tsunoda in second place alongside Rasmussen for the second race of the season. He duly got the holeshot into the Bus Stop Chicane. Further behind, Lawson was quick to dispatch Igor Fraga to take fifth place and hound the rear of Gregoire Saucy.
The field managed to make their way through the first few corners without drama, but at the end of Lap 1, it was Caio Collet who clipped the outside wall and suffered damage. He duly retired to the pit lane.
With clear air out in front, Tsunoda began to stretch his legs over Rasmussen. Lirim Zendeli was stable in third place, unable to make any headway.
Lap after lap, Tsunoda set the pace. Rasmussen couldn’t get within touching distance. However, further, behind them, Lawson was hustling to get by Saucy.
Lawson looked threatening as Saucy began to slide around the high-temperature circuit. Unfortunately, their battle meant they began to lose ground to the top trio.
A mistake on Lap 10 gave Lawson an opportunity to get within driving distance, but the Swiss driver was hard on defence.
Meanwhile, at the front of the field, Rasmussen began to reel in Tsunoda. The M2 Competition driver fell into the clutches of Rasmussen for MTEC Motorsport by R-ace GP. Third-placed Zendeli wasn’t far behind either.
In the end, the order stayed the same. Tsunoda held on to claim victory ahead of Rasmussen and Zendeli. Saucy managed to hold out in fourth despite a strong challenge from Lawson.
Igor Fraga couldn’t make any headway and finished sixth. Franco Colapinto was seventh while Petr Ptacek, Jackson Walls and Emilien Denner completed the top 10.
Race 3 of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series, the Dorothy Smith Memorial Trophy feature, gets underway at 4:20 pm local time.