Toyota Racing Series 2020: a quick and dirty review

Toyota Racing Series Igor Fraga
© Toyota Racing Series

A thrilling 2020 Toyota Racing Series has concluded with Igor Fraga winning by just six points, making it the biggest win of the Brazilian’s career. He was pushed all the way by Kiwi Liam Lawson, who finished on the same number of points as last season, 356.

By Adam Dickinson

In Whatsapping With last month, Fraga told us: “Once I enter a competition, I will give everything seeking victory and it won’t be any different in TRS.” It was a close title battle and Lawson won more races, but a retirement in round nine (which Fraga won) proved the difference while Fraga produced a drive of champions to recover from last to eighth in round twelve. Both are slated to race in FIA Formula 3 this season.

Eight different drivers won races over the fifteen rounds, an increase on last season, with several younger drivers catching the eye with impressive performances.

Franco Colapinto finished third overall, finishing strongly with six consecutive podiums and being crowned rookie champion.

Red Bull Junior Yuki Tsunoda finished fourth with one race victory, and will head to Formula 2 with Carlin following the conclusion of the TRS. In F2 he’s been challenged to finish in the top four by Helmut Marko.

Petr Ptacek had a solid season finishing fifth with three podiums while Caio Collet also stood out for mtec Motorsport, capping off an eventful series by finishing seventh overall. The rookie took a win and four fourths, and were it not for three non-finishes and a penalty in round one he could’ve finished much higher. At the end of January it was announced he’d been retained in the Renault driver academy, and will compete in Formula Renault Eurocup this season.

Joining him in Formula Renault will be race winner Jackson Walls and sixth overall Gregoire Saucy. The Swiss scored two second places and was the highest-placed driver from Giles Motorsport.

Emilien Denner and Tijmen van der Helm had respectively successful first and second years in cars, having stepped up from karting. Both took victories, the Dutchman showing steady progression after joining in weekend three as he improved or matched his previous result in every race until the final round. 

Meanwhile at the other end of the experience range the legendary 78-year old Ken Smith raced the final weekend at Manfeild, scoring ten points.

Round 1: Highlands

It was a controversial race one Collet looked to have won his debut TRS race but was given a penalty retrospectively, which dropped him down to seventh and gave Lawson the win.

In race two Tsuonda took his first (and only) win of the series, leading from lights to flag. Meanwhile race three saw a second win for Lawson, and Ptacek making some impressive overtakes as he finished sixth.

Round 2: Teretonga

Collet used race one to right the wrongs of the first round by taking his first win, making a brilliant start from fourth and pulling a daring outside overtake in the first corner loop.

Denner won race two after leading out of the first corner, and behind there was a tough battle as Lawson pressured Lirim Zendeli, but the German held on to second place. Race three saw a dominant display from Lawson – but for a scary moment where he lost power – while Collet and Saucy shared a good battle across the race.

Round 3: Hampton Downs

Race one saw action from the start with an incident involving Spike Kohlbecker, Denner and Lucas Petersson. Lawson finished second after overtaking Colapinto, Collet and Ptacek in an impressive spell but was unable to catch Fraga who took his first TRS win.

It was another South American’s maiden victory in race two, this time Argentine Franco Colapinto taking the chequered flag after Axel Gnos saw two-wheeled action following a collision with van der Helm. 

In race three Fraga took his second victory, as Lawson suffered an issue and was then rear-ended by Kohlbecker, forcing both to retire. Fraga had to survive a battle with Lawson, several safety cars and a red flag but navigated them all to win the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy.

Round 4: Pukekohe

A brilliant move from Lawson on Fraga into turn five set up a victory in race one which also featured a thrilling battle for second, Fraga eventually taking the position. Jackson Walls won race two from Ptacek, while in third Colapinto had to fend off Lawson the whole race. Race three was pivotal for Fraga who fought from back of grid early in race to finish eighth. Tsunoda produced two great moves on Ido Cohen and Ptacek on his way to ninth, Lawson won.

Round 5: Manfeild

Fraga won race one in front of a fierce battle for second with Colapinto challenging Lawson all the way. Race two gave van der Helm his first race win, having only just turned 16, with the two title rivals making contact at the start. Either driver could win going into the final round and Fraga drove a perfect race three to secure victory in the series by six points.

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