Latest from New Zealand on Alberico

Neil Alberico here, winning this past year's Night Before the 500 U.S. F2000 race.

Problems in qualifying ultimately proved difficult for Team USA Scholarship driver Neil Alberico to overcome when the intensely competitive Toyota Racing Series continued this weekend at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park. He finished the three races in 13th, 14th and 17th, only to be relegated to the back of the field in Race 3 after officials deemed he was at fault for an early incident involving fellow American Ryan Tveter.

“This past weekend has been rough," said Alberico. “TRS has also been a pretty major learning experience thus far. We have had our fair share of ups and downs the past several weeks. We just have to gather ourselves up as a team and move on to the next round at the New Zealand Grand Prix. Big thanks to Victory Racing for all their hard work this past weekend. We are very much looking forward to redeeming ourselves at the Manfeild Autocourse."

Alberico's progress during testing and official practice on Thursday and Friday was hindered firstly by a problem with the front mono-shock, then by locking brakes. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of his Victory Motor Racing crew, the braking issues persisted into qualifying which ensured an unrepresentative 18th on the grid for Race 1 on Saturday and 20th for the feature event on Sunday afternoon.

After a couple of full-course cautions interrupted the early stages of the opening 15-lap race, Alberico emerged in 13th.

“Everyone was side by side for the first two laps after every restart, but I was able to make a few moves around the outside to make up some ground," said the 21-year-old Californian. “Once the field gets going it's really tough to pass without taking massive risk. I feel our race pace is very strong; we just need to be able to qualify up front."

Alberico found himself shuffled back a few positions in Race 2 when one of his rivals made a bold move at around the half-distance mark, ultimately finishing 14th. Even though his pace was compromised by being mired in a pack of cars, he was still able to post a best lap just over a half-second from the fastest lap of the race.

The 20-lap feature race for the historic New Zealand Motor Cup began well with Alberico making up three positions on the opening lap. Unfortunately, he then became embroiled in a multi-car incident on lap 2 which relegated him to the back of the field. He was able to salvage a 17th-place finish before the imposition of a post-race penalty.

Three different drivers shared the victory spoils: Briton Jann Mardenborough, Dutchman Steijn Schothorst and Estonian Martin Rump. Singapore's Andrew Tang claimed a trio of top-four finishes and now holds a seven-point margin over Mardenborough prior to the final TRS weekend, which will culminate in the prestigious New Zealand Grand Prix.

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