Dutchman Richard Verschoor has won the opening Toyota Racing Series race of the season at Ruapuna Raceway in Christchurch.

Verschoor, who led last year's championship through the first half of the series, made a superb start from position two and jumped pole-sitter Robert Shwartzman by the first corner and cruised off to win the 15-lap race.

"It was quite an easy race," Verschoor said. "The start is always tricky but we got away well.

"We can always improve – myself and the car – so we will have a look with my engineer at whether we need to do anything different tomorrow."


Russian Shwartzman held on for a comfortable second place while Kiwi Marcus Armstrong completed the podium.

Armstrong, who finished fourth in the championship last year, started from fourth and was under pressure to hold onto the spot on the opening lap. But he pulled clear and then started going to work on third placed Clement Novalak. The 17-year-old made his move on the Frenchman on lap four and never looked pressured from there.

Taylor Cockerton was the next best of the Kiwis in sixth. Cockerton battled Calvin Ming of Guyana throughout the race but managed to make the crucial pass with a couple of laps remaining.

Rookie Reid Harker finished an impressive eighth in his first race in the series while fellow debutant Ryan Yardley was 11th.

The experienced Brendon Leitch finished in 13th spot after an awful start. The 21-year-old really struggled for race pace and his car never looked comfortable.

There are two more races, including the race for the Lady Wigram Trophy, on Sunday.

Race one results
1. Richard Verschoor (NED)
2. Robert Shwartzman (RUS)
3. Marcus Armstrong (NZL)
4. Clement Novalak (FRA)
5. James Pull (GBR)
6. Taylor Cockerton (NZL)
8. Reid Harker (NZL)
11. Ryan Yardley (NZL)
13. Brendon Leitch (NZL)