Dramatic Toyota Racing Series race results unknown after restart crash
Cameron Das seemed destined for victory in Friday’s Castrol Toyota Racing Series Race 1 at Hampton Downs, but the results are unclear after the American was taken out in the lead during the final safety car restart.
Japanese driver Kazuto Kotaka began the reverse-grid top six race on pole. Austrian Lucas Auer started the race on the front row next to Kotaka and overtook the #36 before they collided, sending Auer into the dirt.
Chaos reigned for the rest of the first lap as Kiwi Brendon Leitch went off track and Belgian driver Esteban Muth ended the lap beached.
A saftey car period brought calm to the field and established the lead group of Cameron Das, Liam Lawson, Artem Petrov, and Marcus Armstrong.
The race was red flagged to recover Muth, and when it resumed, Armstrong dispatched Petrov on the start/finish line, taking third position.
A battle pack emerged further down the field of Leitch, Thomas Smith, Petru Florescu, Lucas Auer, and Calan Williams. The racing was close and positions were freely traded before Auer spun out after what appeared to be contact with Smith.
The saftey car came back out and had an awkward moment at the start of lap 12 as its lights went out, signalling a restart, but it continued to lead the field down the main straight, eventually turning them back on for one more lap.
Racing briefly resumed, with Kotaka and Australian Calan Williams engaged in close proximity at the rear of the field before the two made hard contact, sending Williams into the wall.
Another red flag fell over the track, and a comical moment emerged when the saftey car had to be swapped for another due to a flat tyre.
A two lap sprint to the finish remained and all eyes were on the leading pair of Cameron Das and kiwi Liam Lawson. At the restart, the two came to cross the start/finish line and Lawson rammed into a slow Das, sending Das into the wall and badly damaging Lawson’s car.
The race was red flagged and declared finished, with results still yet to be announced by Toyota Racing New Zealand, as the final crash is being investigated by the stewards.