Czech racing driver Petr Ptacek brought his 2020 Toyota Racing Series campaign to a positive conclusion in New Zealand this weekend, securing another podium and a further two point-scoring finishes across three races at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon.
The 17-year-old’s impressive form in the hotly-contested, five round single-seater series guaranteed a P5 finish (out of 20 drivers) in the final point standings.
After claiming podium finishes in the two previous rounds at Hampton Downs and Pukekohe, MindMaze-backed Petr arrived at the season finale in good form and was immediately battling at the front of the pack at the cambered 3.03km Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon circuit.
In Saturday’s opening race, he lined up from P9 on the grid but made gains to add to his points tally after scoring a P7 finish.
In Race 2 on Sunday, Parmigiani Fleurier-supported Petr battled for the lead but a heavy lock-up while trying to find his way past a rival left the youngster with a tyre flat spot and having to battle a significant vibration for the remainder of the 15-lap race. In the circumstances, he wisely settled for P3, expertly holding off the advances of eventual champion Igor Fraga.
“It was a good feeling to be on the podium again, but I was a little bit frustrated because I know my final result could have been even better without the mistake,” Petr admitted. “Nonetheless, P3 is a decent result considering how heavy the vibration was.”
Petr secured P6 on the grid for the prestigious season-ending New Zealand Grand Prix on Sunday, after setting a blistering best lap time that was only 0.2s shy of pole position during qualifying.
A strong performance when the lights turned to green enabled Petr to climb one place and eventually finish P5 at the end of the 35-lap battle. It meant the mtec Motorsport engineered by R-Ace GP driver classified P5 in the final championship standings – a significant improvement on his 2019 TRS result of P11.
“The final race was quite frantic because of all the battles for position, and there were a lot of yellow flags,” explained Petr. “I saved the best of my tyres for later in the weekend, so this helped, but when they were at their optimum I decided not to take any risks because I was thinking of my championship position.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my programme in New Zealand and I definitely feel I’ve made another big step as a driver. P5 in the points is a good achievement, having only been racing cars for two years. I must give a big thanks to my team for their hard work and support during the last five weeks. I think we’ve done a good job together and achieved some strong results.”
With his Toyota Racing Series campaign now compete, Petr will return to Europe and focus is attention on his 2020 preparations. Details of his upcoming programme will be revealed before the end of February.