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Podiums aplenty for Lucas Auer in Castrol Toyota Racing Series

Lucas Auer

#22 Lucas Auer (AUT – M2 Competition Tatuus Toyota)
Castrol Toyota Racing Series - 3rd after 15 of 15 races

After five intense consecutive weekends in New Zealand, Red Bull Junior Lucas Auer lined up in pole position for the fifteenth and final race of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series, the 64th running of the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild on Sunday. Unfortunately it all ended in a tangle of five cars on lap thirteen of 35.

It should have been the culmination of an impressive series for the 24-year-old Austrian who went into the final weekend third in points and still with the possibility of taking the title.

"I missed the start and then was going backwards and backwards," explained a very frustrated Auer immediately after climbing out of the stranded car in the final. "Slower and slower, maybe I had a problem, I don't know."

The big finale

It really should have turned out differently. "On Saturday we tried something with tyre pressure which didn't work out, third in Race 1 was OK but today we corrected it and the M2 guys did a great job with the car so we could put it on pole for the Grand Prix," explained Auer after taking a good second in the reverse grid Race 2 on Sunday morning.

"Obviously pole is crucial, 35 laps round here is a long way in these cars, the tyres last well but you have to have the pressures right, that is critical and in combination with your driving and the car set-up, that is likely to make all the difference in the final so we'll see."

Even if the end result was ultimately disappointing, the trip down under was still very much worthwhile. "As I am swapping from the DTM back to open wheelers it was a perfect fit to come down here to do the Toyota series and get some time in a formula car."

New Zealand and Japan

"Of course it is different again from the Super Formula car I will race in Japan this season but it is till a very good preparation. It's a tough series, very competitive with very strong Kiwi drivers who are very hard to beat on their home tracks plus a strong international entry," explained Auer with ten nations being represented.

"It is all very professional and I knew what to expect as I've been here a couple of times before. It has been a great series this time, not an easy start as we battled with the car through the first two weekends. We had to change the car a lot and overcome some technical issues but we did it and turned things around by the Taupo round. So that was great, we could win there, just a shame that the championship had got away from us by then."

Better than snow

"It was perfect to come down here after testing the Super Formula car in Japan, there is nothing to do at home at this time, I miss the skiing but that's not racing so I've been happy to spend time in the car. I know it is going to be a very interesting and exciting season in Japan."

"Just like here you are racing against local guys who know every bump and stone in the track in Japan. There we have the communication and cultural differences to work on as well. They are very polite, they operate at a very high standard, it's a great opportunity for any young driver to tackle those things and to drive a race car that is just a step down from F1. I can't wait for the series in Japan and this has been a great way to get ready for it."