Alberico gains another top-10 from challenging weekend in NZ

Alberico gains another top-10 from challenging weekend in NZ

Team USA Scholarship

Alberico gains another top-10 from challenging weekend in NZ

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Photo courtesy of Bruce Jenkins Photography/Toyota Racing New Zealand.

Team USA Scholarship driver Neil Alberico’s fortunes during the first round of the intensely competitive Toyota Racing Series at Teretonga matched the weather changeable. Highlights included setting the second fastest lap during the early portion of a wet Race 2 and posting a best lap just over four-tenths off the overall fastest time during the Spirit of the Nation Trophy feature race on Sunday afternoon.

The 21-year-old from Los Gatos, Calif., faced a steep learning curve and struggled initially to come to grips with the distinctive handling of the TRS car, which features a mono-shock suspension system, but made solid progress and ended the weekend with a pair of top-10 finishes and 10th place in the overall point standings.

Russian Egor Orudzhev won two of the three races but Estonian Martin Rump holds a 16-point advantage, 166-150, despite failing to win a race. Singapore’s Andrew Tang, the other race winner, lies eighth in the points table.

Alberico’s strong drive from 17th to 10th in Race 1 on Saturday meant he would start Sunday morning’s second round on the outside of the fifth row of the 23-car grid. The track was still wet from overnight rain and Alberico once again made a good start, rising to seventh and challenging for sixth within the first two laps.

Unfortunately, the decision to start on scrubbed wet weather tires failed to pay off, and while the 15-lap race was blighted by a succession of full-course cautions due to a variety of incidents, a couple of Alberico’s rivals, running brand-new wets, were able to find a way past and restrict him to a ninth-place finish.

The grid for the 20-lap feature race was set by the second qualifying period on Saturday morning, which meant Alberico would have to start 15th this time on a completely dry track. He made another good start, only to find himself trapped on the outside line through the fast, left-handed Turn One sweeper. All of a sudden he was back to 18th. With overtaking opportunities few and far between on the 1.6-mile race track, and with lap times so close, Alberico did well to salvage a 14th-place finish and maintain 10th in the overall standings as the series heads to Timaru International Motor Raceway for three more races next weekend.

“Overall I think it was a successful first weekend, despite all the drama early on,” said Alberico. “Although we did not get the results we were looking for, we gained valuable data for the coming rounds thanks to all the Team Victory boys. Ultimately, we finished every race and we are leaving Teretonga 10th in the championship with 12 races left in the season. Onto the next one!”

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