The final round of the Toyota Racing Series New Zealand has yielded a solid result for 17-year-old racer Cameron Das as he took part in the final three races of the 2018 Championship at Manfeild. Das, who stormed in to seventh place in the second race of the weekend, leaves New Zealand having enjoyed some brilliant wheel to wheel action over the course of the five-round event. Das also rounded off the series with recognition for his fantastic last corner overtake at Taupo as he was awarded for pulling off the Greatest Overtake Manoeuvre of the entire series – an accomplishment and testament to his race-craft.
In what has been a hard-fought and exciting 2018 championship, Das headed to the Manfeild Autocourse full of anticipation for the final round of the season. Taking to the 3km circuit for free practice Das once again endeavoured to get up to speed quickly – learning the intricacies well, he placed his Victory Motor Racing FT40 car strongly in the top five as he looked ahead to the rest of the weekend.
Qualifying was a tense affair for the entire field, a damp but drying track meant that slicks were the way forward. However, the drama was two-fold for Das as he struggled with a brake issue which seemed to intensify as the track dried out. This left him down the order on the timing screens and also unfortunately followed him in to the opening race of the weekend which became a case of damage control.
However race two was where Das once again made his mark on the field. Starting from 11thposition, the 2016 F4 US Champion was keen to get away quickly and gain progress. A brilliant start meant he was positioned perfectly to improve on his weekend. Making quick work of gaining four positions early on and challenging those ahead, Das was once again impressive with his race craft and took the flag in seventh position. He finished the season off with an 11th place in the final round.
For 17-year-old Das the Championship was rounded off with recognition at the end of season banquet as he was honored with the award for the Greatest Overtaking Manoeuvre of the entire TRS New Zealand for his astonishing last corner dive at Taupo. Das’ lightning starts, and strong race craft have been a staple of the series; enjoying the wheel to wheel action with his competitors and not giving up when things looked tough the talented American has gained a raft of experience from the event and leaves New Zealand full of confidence for the season ahead.
“This final weekend at Manfield was another with many highs and lows” reflected Das. “In practice, we were looking really strong on both new and used tires. Qualifying threw us yet another challenge with a drying track on slicks, but I felt confident in these conditions. Despite having the confidence to qualify well, I was hindered by a brake issue that progressively became worse whilst the track was drying. We believed we found the issue before race one, but only a few laps in it became apparent that it wasn’t solved. Race one was primarily about surviving the race with limited stopping ability.
“With the issue diagnosed and addressed, race two was truly enjoyable. Having to start in 11th, I made my way to seventh in just a few laps and I was challenging the two cars in front of me all the way to the checkered flag. Being a part of the New Zealand GP was truly a humbling experience; I’ve only been to a few countries that cherish Motorsport the way Kiwis do, and to be associated with the pinnacle of it is mind bending.”
Having taken part in 15 races, enjoyed incredible racing action and impressed with his lightning reactions on the starting grid Das said of the experience, “Looking back at these last five weeks, I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time. We had a lot of bad luck which forced us to show tremendous strength as a team in positions of weakness. I was honored to be the recipient of the Greatest Overtaking Maneuver Award of 2018. Improving my race craft is exactly what I came to this championship to do, and I believe this award proves I succeeded in that task. I’ve also met so many incredible people, including the entirety of the Victory Racing team.
“I must thank Mo, Julian, and Jose for giving their all this season and always keeping their heads up. I must also thank Toyota, Nico, and Sarah for organizing such a well put together championship. I honestly feel like I’ve never been more prepared for a race season. I also must thank those who are responsible for bringing me to this spectacular country: my sponsors – Autobahn Indoor Speedway, Bertil Roos Racing School, and Meguiars Polish. And I also must thank my parents, of course, who continue to allow and assist me in pursuing my ultimate dream.”
Das, who finished the event in 12th position overall, now looks ahead to returning to Europe where he will be announcing his 2018 season plans shortly.