Motorsport: Teen whiz Armstrong working on his strategy

By Dale Budge

Marcus Armstrong. Photo / Edwin Nieuwenhuis
Marcus Armstrong. Photo / Edwin Nieuwenhuis

The Toyota Racing Series is only two rounds old but already young Kiwi teenager Marcus Armstrong has figured out a better way of attacking the championship.

The talented 16-year-old, who is signed up with the Ferrari Driver Academy in Europe this year, is the leading New Zealander in the standings heading into this weekend's third round at Hampton Downs.

Armstrong turned heads in his first qualifying stint in the car when he claimed a win in the opening race of the championship at Ruapuna. But an incident in the final race of the weekend proved costly for the series rookie, removing the advantage he had gained in the first two races.

Consistency is likely to have a big say in the overall outcome of the championship, with leader Richard Verschoor already banking a good haul of points in each of the six races.

"If I were to come back and do it next year, it will be a hell of a lot easier just knowing what to do," Armstrong said.

"If we could do it all again and start back two weeks ago, I would have had a more consistent run and that would help massively, even if some of the results weren't quite as strong.

"It started off in almost perfect fashion - we had two qualifying sessions at Ruapuna where we were second in both and extremely close to my teammate Jehan [Daruvala].

"Then we went on to win race one, had a podium in race two and then the weekend ended a little bit sour with a DNF [did not finish].

"Last weekend [at Teretonga, Invercargill] was a clean weekend - it wasn't quite as good as round one but it was a good points haul and we are still in a good position to fight for the championship."

Dutchman Verschoor holds a 58-point lead and Armstrong knows he will take some beating but says his lead is not insurmountable.

"We are only two rounds in out of five and there is a lot that can happen. It can bite you pretty hard if you get it wrong."

The series moves to the ultra-modern Hampton Downs Raceway in north Waikato this weekend and Armstrong will need to spend some time getting familiar with it, having never driven an open-wheel car around the track.

"I know the place a little bit and I don't have any single-seater experience there but we are lucky that we do have a lot of track time there before we begin.

"Learning a track is a lot easier than learning a car, which I had to do at Ruapuna."

The venue has been described as being much more European in style than any of the other tracks in New Zealand. Armstrong, who has been based in Europe recently, should be at home there.

"It is a little bit more towards the style of a European circuit only because it is quite wide and there are not so many bumps.

"I don't think it will play into our hands. If anything, the other Kiwi guys will have a little bit of an advantage due to track knowledge but I don't think it is too different to Ruapuna in that sense."

- NZ Herald

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