Top-Five Finish for Alberico in First of Three TRS Races at Timaru
Timaru, New Zealand (January 18, 2014) – Team USA Scholarship driver Neil Alberico began his second weekend of Toyota Racing Series action with a flourish by finishing fifth in Race One at the Timaru International Motor Raceway on New Zealand’s South Island.
Alberico, 21, from Los Gatos, Calif., had qualified sixth in the first of two 15-minute sessions which determined the grids for both Race 1 and the weekend’s feature race for the Timaru Herald Trophy. The opening period was red-flagged twice, but Alberico managed to turn a representative lap in his Victory Motor Racing Team entry to secure a starting position on the outside of row three in the extremely competitive 23-car field. The top 20 cars were all blanketed by less than one second.
His good fortune continued when he narrowly escaped a huge pileup moments after the start. The incident was triggered by a lunge to the inside by seventh-place qualifier Matteo Ferrer, from Switzerland, who succeeded only in collecting fifth-place starter Macauley Jones, from Australia. Several others also were involved when the disabled cars of Ferrer and Jones careened into the path of the main pack.
Following a red flag and lengthy delay, the race was restarted in the original grid order, albeit in single-file formation and minus six cars which were beyond immediate repair. Alberico took full advantage by settling into fifth behind New Zealander James Munro, Dutchman Steijn Schothorst, Russian Egor Orudzhev and his local teammate Damon Leitch.
Munro, the reigning New Zealand Formula Ford champion, stretched his lead to score his maiden TRS win ahead of Schothorst and Orudzhev. Alberico put Leitch under some pressure in the middle portion of the 15-lap race before settling into fifth, well clear of Damon Leitch’s older brother, Brendon, and Estonian Martin Rump who led the points table following the first three races at Teretonga Park last week.
“With the single file restart there was a bit of dicing up front between the five of us at first, then we slowly separated ourselves from the rest of the field as the race progressed,” said Alberico. “It’s tough to pass here without heavy risk.
“Great job today by the Victory Motor Racing boys. They have worked very hard this past week to make vast improvements and they deserve this top-five finish.”
Alberico will start fourth for Race 2, which starts at 11:00 am local time on Sunday (plus 18 hours from the U.S. East Coast), and 14th for the 20-lap Timaru Herald Trophy feature race at 3:00 pm. Live timing and scoring will be available at http://www.nzracechamps.org.nz/pages/67/live-timing.htm.