Verschoor fends off strong challenge to win NZ Motor Cup

Richard Verschoor
Richard Verschoor
Richard Verschoor got his hands on the most famous trophy in local motorsport, the New Zealand Motor Cup, when he won the main race of the third round of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series at Hampton Downs  yesterday afternoon.

It was the Dutch 17-year-old’s fourth win of the series, but Marcus Armstrong, who finished second, has slightly extended his lead in the series over Robert Shwartzman, who came third.

"It’s amazing," Verschoor, who like the other international drivers has had a chance to look at the trophy for the last three days, said.

It used to be awarded for the New Zealand Grand Prix when the event was held at Ardmore and Pukekohe, when it was won by the likes of Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Chris Amon and Keke Rosberg.

"This was the one I wanted to win," Verschoor said.

Although he has now won four races to Armstrong’s two victories over the first nine races, Verschoor is philosophical about his chances in the series where he still trails the Christchurch driver by 70 points, after failing to finish the Lady Wigram Trophy race at the first round.

"We’re getting good results. That’s all I can aim for."

From pole position, Verschoor had to fend off a very strong challenge from Armstrong in the first corner. The gap between them did not vary by more than half a second. Shwartzman was more than  a second behind. The race was stopped when the front wing came off Brendon Leitch’s car, which then crashed exiting the last corner on lap 13. It may have been dislodged in the melee of traffic going into the first corner at the start. Leitch was uninjured in the accident. Verschoor controlled the restart of what became a seven-lap sprint. Armstrong had one lunge at him after Verschoor ran wide in a corner.

"He made a mistake in turn five, but I couldn’t quite make the pass stick," Armstrong said.

"Maybe I would have been a bit more ambitious if there was more at stake."

He said he did not intend to change his approach to the Toyota Racing Series at the final two rounds. He now leads Shwartzman by 41 points. The Russian trailed home more than  a second behind the leading pair and despite his runner-up position in the series is looking for more at the fourth round at Taupo next weekend.

"I’m getting annoyed with the seconds and thirds," the 18-year-old said. 

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