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Feb 12, 2014 - 06:26 AM
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USA's Tveter Gets Another Podium Finish As TRS Season Concludes
Posted by: newsla on Feb 12, 2014 - 06:25 AM
Sports Cars
USA's Tveter Gets Another Podium Finish As TRS Season Concludes


Ryan Tveter finished third in the Dan Higgins Trophy race Saturday at Manfeild Park during a final weekend of Toyota Racing Series action that saw plenty of drama for the 19-year-old from Oyster Bay, N.Y.

 

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Driving the Game Ready Injury Treatment Systems #4 which is also sponsored by the Autobau Museum in Switzerland, Tveter and the Giles Motorsport team were forced to battle back after a rare electrical problem caused a crash in the third practice session on Friday at the 3.03-kilometer road course’s Pepsi Corner. The crew worked hard to quickly make repairs, and Tveter rewarded them by placing fourth in both qualifying sessions on a wet track Saturday morning. He was just 0.546 of a second off the fastest qualifier in the first qualifying session and 0.665 of a second off the top time in the second qualifying session. He would have qualified second in the second session had a red flag not come out during his last flying lap. He was also one of 11 drivers who broke the track record during practice on a dry track on Thursday and Friday.

That gave Tveter the fourth starting spot for Saturday afternoon’s race. In a bizarre turn of events Nick Cassidy, the polesitter and defending champion, and the third-place starter, Jann Mardenborough, were sent to the rear due to mechanical difficulties on the grid. This series does not bunch up the field under these circumstances so that left the driver who qualified second, Andrew Tang, all by himself in Row 1 and Tveter all alone in Row 2 for the start of the race.

Tveter unfortunately got a bad start at the green and immediately swept across the track to defend the inside line. Damon Leitch attempted to overtake him on the grass on the start-finish straight, but Tveter did not cede easily. The two were side by side for the first five corners, with Leitch getting past going into Turn 5. With Tveter and Leitch battling, Tang led each time the field went by the start-finish line. The top three went on to finish in those positions in the non-stop race that was shortened from 20 laps to 17 laps due to the time lost during the drama on the grid.

Tveter was only 0.888 of a second behind Leitch at the checkered flag and he successfully fought off all the advances of the driver who finished fourth, Steijn Schothorst. Tveter’s fastest race lap was a 1:04.113 on lap 16 as he tried to chase down Leitch in a race that had a torrid pace, as Tang set a new track record on lap six with a time of 1:03.276.

After a marble draw saw the top six finishers inverted for Race 2, Tveter again started fourth in that race Sunday morning. He had a phenomenal start, passing Mardenborough and Schothorst to only trail Levin Amweg by the end of lap one.

Tveter took the lead working lap six after a restart. He and Amweg were side by side in Turn 3 when Amweg made a mistake and went off course, and Tveter vaulted into the lead for the first time in his career.

He took full advantage, and built up a commanding lead before the yellow flew again on lap eight. He led a total of six laps until Mardenborough passed him in Turn 1 following the restart. They touched on the exit of Turn 2, which broke the front suspension on Tveter’s car and caused him to lose steering and end up in a tire barrier. That gave Schothorst the lead. The latter ended up with the victory because the race ended under yellow and then red with 12 of 15 laps complete, even though Schothorst’s car stalled while waiting for a restart.

Tveter was scored in 20th place with a DNF by his name, even though the scoresheet also indicated he completed all 12 laps.

The third and final race of the series was the 58th annual New Zealand Grand Prix, which was held Sunday afternoon. Tveter once again started fourth. He got a good start, but got boxed in later in Turn 5, which affected his exit of that turn. He tried to regroup but he got up on a curb at the exit of Turn 6, which sent him backwards into a concrete wall working lap two and he retired with rear-wheel damage. He wasn’t the only one who exited prematurely; only 14 of the 24 starters finished.

Tveter had two podium finishes, one other top-five, three more top-10 finishes and several laps led during the TRS series. He also won $2,000 in the #TRSGreatAdventure social media contest, and was one of three international drivers to receive a cash prize. Tang and Mardenborough were the other ones, as they finished first and second in the championship.

“TRS was an amazing experience,” Tveter said. “I came here to learn, and I’m thrilled to be leaving with two podiums and a cash prize. There is no other championship where you can gain almost a season’s worth of experience in five weeks in such a professional environment and extremely high level of competition.

“I achieved many great firsts in TRS: my first podium, my first top-five qualifying, my first top-three qualifying, and I also led my first race this past weekend at Manfeild,” he noted. “It was the perfect way to start my 2014 season, and I wouldn’t change a thing about the experience because it was all such valuable learning.

“I’d like to say a big thank you to my sponsors, Game Ready and Autobau, and also thank my mechanics and the team at Giles Motorsport for all their hard work. I’d also like to thank Toyota and the whole staff at TRS for putting on an amazing championship.”

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