Clement Novalak has put the cat amongst the pigeons with a lights to flag victory in the main race at the second round of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series at Teretonga, Invercargill this afternoon.
In only his second race meeting in a single seater car after a career in karting which netted two world titles, 17 year old Novalak up-staged the more favoured trio of Marcus Armstrong, Richard Verschoor and Robert Shwartzman who have dominated the racing so far in the series but finished in that order behind him.
Christchurch's Armstrong had qualified on pole position, but from the outside of the front row, Novalak won the race to the first corner with a better start.
"It was my best start of the weekend," said the London based French teenager, in his reference to the morning's preliminary race where he jumped the start and was penalized five seconds, relegating him from second to fifth place.
Last weekend at Ruapuna, Novalak made three slow starts as he got used to the first clutch standing starts of his career.
"I am lost for words," said Novalak, who controlled the pace and gradually pulled away from the pursuing Armstrong, who in turn came under pressure from Verschoor in the closing laps.
"Everything went very well, although the laps to go seemed to go down so slowly when you are in the lead," said Novalak, who finished with the fastest lap of the race in 53.6 seconds.
Armstrong conceded he would have liked to win, but the bigger picture was just as important. "We got the round win and if we can continue like this I will be happy."
Local driver Brendon Leitch had his best race of the weekend, finishing fifth just behind the leading quartet, while Aucklander Reid Harker made it three Kiwis in the top ten in tenth place.
Armstrong was the most consistent of the main contenders over the weekend and has extended his lead in the series to 28 points over Shwartzman, with Verschoor another 47 points back, but they all might be looking over their shoulders at Novalak now, who has qualified well both weekends and now has a pretty good understanding of standing starts.
Race two results
1, J-M Correa (USA);
2, J Pull (England);
3, M Armstrong (Christchurch);
4, R Shwartzman (Russia);
5, C Novalak (England);
6, R Verschoor (Netherlands);
7, C Das (USA);
8, B Leitch (Invercargill);
9, C Ming (Guyana);
10, T Cockerton (Pukekohe).
Race three (Spirit of the Nation Trophy)
10; R Harker (Albany).
1, Armstrong, 397;
2, Shwartzman, 369;
3, Verschoor, 322;
4, Novalak, 310;
5, Pull, 300;
6, Correa, 279;
7, Ming, 229;
8, Cockerton, 220;
9, Leitch, 212;
10, Milesi, 211.