Racing in the Toyota Racing Series gives drivers the opportunity to work on many aspects of a motorsport career and Tatiana has made use of her time to evaluate and benchmark her performance against those who will be her peers and rivals as she moves up through the motorsport ranks this coming European season and beyond.
Entering into the third round, here at the Taupo Motorsport Park, a new venue built to host the New Zealand Rounds of the A1 Grand Prix Tatiana has seen the competition, and evaluated what is needed to compete.
“I need to get much more aggressive” she said. “My driving is good and my technique is coming on, I have the speed but need that bit extra, and I’m going to get it.”
And so, in the 2 days of free practice she attached the track and the times were competitive, consistent and impressive, posting 4th quickest in this company on day 1 and solid top tens on day 2, just 2 tenths off the ultimate pace.
So into Saturdays qualifying for races 1 and 3 of the meeting. And the expectation was high. The result after the two15 minute sessions did not live up to expectations however and the two solid tenth places were in fact her best result to date in the championship, but on the back of the progress made Tatiana was far from satisfied.
Gathering herself and refocusing the energy of disappointment was refocused into the race and she took her place on the grid.
A great start, moving up four abreast and showing no sign of backing out, tenth became 8th and she jostled and fought to keep cars behind her and chase down teammate Mardenborough and championship leader Auer and local Leitch.
Posting quick laps again she attacked Leitch, passing him on the back straight and looking assured, ahead Auer and Mardenborough battled, Tatiana did not hold back and sat a car length back waiting for any opportunity to move.
Leitch however was still pressing and a missed gear shift on the straight saw him regain the place. The four competitors now running in a tight group.
At the flag Tatiana delivered her best result yet in 8th, with lap times on the leading pace and had plenty to be happy about.
If race 1 showed promise, race 2 delivered the result Tatiana was looking for and put beyond question that this girl has ability, racecraft and pace. A superlative performance from lights to flag and a fine 5th place in touching distance of 3rd place and on the tail of reigning champion Cassidy.
Not only Tatiana’s best result, but her ETEC teams best performance this campaign much to the delight of her mechanics and engineers who are coming to admire the Columbian lady racer.
The race itself showed Tatiana’s pace is as good as any in the series when she has the opportunity and her start line aggression and bravery matched those around her as she outbraked Leitch and passed race 1 winner Lynn on the inside as she moved into 5th place.
A three car chain Cassidy, Auer, Tatiana ran nose to tail for the full 15 laps, each driver defending and attacking lap after lap with no quarter given. Tatiana tried a move on race winner Auer into turn 1 and ran side by side into turn 2 but had to yield to avoid contact with the Austrian nephew of F1 legend Gerhard Berger.
Auer passed Cassidy and Tatiana had the pressure on the reigning champion for 4 laps to the flag. Finishing 5th and absolutely delighted!
After the highs of race 2 came the reality of racing, 10th place start from Saturdays disappointing qualifying and then, eager to make ground, a jump-start and a resultant time penalty came. Undeterred Tatiana pushed on knowing that she had nothing to lose, chasing down her teammate Mardenborough yet again but this time determined to make a pass, moving in on him as the two came together.
It was Tatiana who cam off worse, running off the track and rejoining in 13th place behind her other ETEC team runner Tanart.
This time it was the Thai that spun under pressure from Tatiana and as he went off there was no option other than to use the gravel for the Colombian.
A race to forget as she crossed the line 13th, before the penalty has been applied.
Reflecting on a mixed weekend she said, “Race 3 wasn’t a great race but it gave me a chance to push and try some moves, but race 2 showed I can run at the front and I know I can still improve so lets see where we are at Hampton Downs.”
Hampton Downs is the penultimate round of the TRS and takes place at the Auckland track this coming weekend 2/3 February.