A controlled lights to flag victory for Pukekohe's Taylor Cockerton in the second race of the 2017 Castrol Toyota Racing Series was cruelly taken away after the Kiwi driver was adjudged to have jumped the start and penalized 10 seconds by race officials.
Undeterred, the Waikato University student has taken the positives from the three race-opening round of the series held at the Mike Pero Motorsport Park just outside of Christchurch.
"It has been a tough weekend points wise but the important thing is we finished every race and know we have the speed to contend in the top five," commented Cockerton.
After qualifying sixth for the opening race on Saturday afternoon, Cockerton finished fifth, equalling his best performance last season in the series; with fellow Kiwi Marcus Armstrong winning.. A reverse top six grid for Sunday morning's race saw Cockerton start on the front row alongside Brazilian Pedro Piquet. A better start saw Cockerton take the lead, which he held for 15 laps and his first TRS victory.
"I knew that if I could get ahead of Pedro (Piquet) I could then control the race from there. It was one of the most stressful races I've been in, particularly the last part as I was coming under pressure from Pedro"
However, officials eventually penalised three cars 10 seconds each for false starts as well as handing Piquet a 30-second penalty for a race incident with Australian Thomas Randle. This demoted Cockerton to fourth, Piquet to 17th and handed Randle the win.
"I wasn't aware of the inquiry and felt I had genuinely won the race but a false start is a false start. At least we came away with fourth."
The feature 20 lap Lady Wigram Trophy race rubbed salt into the wound as Cockerton immediately suffered an electrical issue from the start.
"I bogged down at the start (of the race) and after hooking second (gear) found there was a lack of power. This continued off and on during the race with the power cutting in and out."
Worse was to follow with the race having several restarts after incidents with other competitors.
"The restarts were shocking," commented Cockerton. "Everyone took off and then slowed up. Someone smacked into me from behind and created more issues. I punctured and had to pit only to puncture again on the next lap.
"In the end it was a matter of finishing. It has been a tough weekend points wise but the important thing is we finished every race and we know we have the speed to contend in the top five. So we take a lot of positives heading to the next round at Teretonga. "
Indian driver Jehan Daruvala led from start to finish repeating his win of 12 months ago. The five round series now heads to Invercargill with Dutch driver Richard Verschoor leading the points table, Cockerton placed in seventh overall.