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Lawson wins, Tsunoda podiums in tough Teretonga TRS

Liam Lawson

#1 Liam Lawson (NZL – M2 Competition Toyota FT-60)
Qualifying 1: 13th – Race 1 Grid: 13th – Race 1 Result: 6th
Race 2 reverse top 8 grid: 3rd – Race 2 Result: 3rd
Qualifying 2: 2nd – Race 3 Grid: 2nd – Race 3 Result: 1st
Castrol Toyota Series position: 1st – 153 points – after 6 of 15 races

#33 Yuki Tsunoda (JAP – M2 Competition Toyota FT-60)
Qualifying 1: 9th – Race 1 Grid: 9th – Race 1 Result: 11th
Race 2 reverse top 8 grid: 11th – Race 2 Result: 7th
Qualifying 2: 5th – Race 3 Grid: 5th – Race 3 Result: 3rd
Castrol Toyota Series position: 4th – 112 points – after 6 of 15 races

Brilliance and determination from Liam Lawson and Yuki Tsunoda turned the Toyota Racing Series weekend in Teretonga around for the Red Bull Juniors. Reigning champion Lawson leads this year's title chase after winning Race 3, the Feature Race, with Tsunoda joining him on the podium.

That had hardly looked possible half way into Saturday with 17-year-old New Zealander Lawson recovering from 13th on the grid in Race 1 and Tsunoda off in the grass having been hit from behind. The 19-year-old Japanese regained the tarmac in last place but forced his way through to finish 11th while Lawson scythed through the pack to cross the line 6th.

The trying Saturday had started with a very restricted first Qualifying; due to a long red flag period after an accident it was effectively reduced to three minutes.

On the back foot

Lawson explained how things unfolded. "It didn't go our way at all. We got screwed by the red flags in Qualifying and that left us with too much to do in the race. There was not a lot of hope for a result going into Race 1 but I was determined to give it everything of course and I did. Getting through to P6 wasn't a bad effort round here."

"It was a strange weekend because we had drift cars on Saturday that really changed the track surface and that altered the balance of the car completely. So we had to compensate for that."

"Q2 wasn't bad, we didn't quite nail the lap but that was OK. Race 2 could have been better, I was in 3rd OK but there was no sense in doing something crazy trying to get second. It just didn't happen, the balance of the car just wasn't quite right and there was no point in over driving it."

"This car is interesting and we are still learning about it. It's different in that small changes in some areas make a big difference but big changes in other areas don't so we haven't always got it right and we have to understand it better."

"Race 3 was great but I had a big fright when I lost power completely but we got lucky and it came back. I lost a good bit of time but hung on to the lead. Really satisfying to end the weekend like that. I'm very happy with it."

"I'm looking forward to the next races, we know we can still learn quite a bit about the car and improve things. It's great, part of the challenge," concluded the Kiwi.

Tsunoda happy with progress

"From Free Practice to Qualifying 1 we had good pace compared to what we had at Highlands, a good improvement," explained the Honda Formula Dream Project driver. "Then Q1 was a messy session, red flags and I didn't get in a push lap at all."

"So that left me P9 for Race 1. The start was quit good, I passed a couple of people early but then the pack was concentrated and slowed ahead on the first lap, I was forced to slow but then was hit from behind and knocked off the track. So finishing P11 was all I could do from there."

"In Q2 today I had a strong pace and was fastest but then we had another red flag. After that others improved but I could not and we don't really know why."

"Going from P11 in Race 2 with the result from Race 1 was difficult. It is hard to overtake on this track but we had strong pace and I managed P7 so I was quite satisfied with that."

"After Q2 and Race 2 I had the feeling we had strong pace I was looking forward to Race 3 and expecting to go with the leaders if I could make a good start from P5. I did and I went after the leaders, planning to chase, then try something at the end."

"The pace just wasn't quite there though, the balance of the car had gone and it was quite hard to drive. P3 was OK but it should have been better. So we improved this week but it can still certainly be better," concluded Tsunoda.