As the 2013 Toyota Racing Series arrived at its finale at the Manfield Park Race Track in Palmerston North Tatiana had already given the series a thumbs up and achieved many of her objectives from the intensive winter opener for her upcoming European Season. So the opportunity to complete the Series and compete in her first “Grand Prix” was a challenge she was looking forward to.
The track at Manfield is fast and sweeping and provides good opportunities for passing and Tatiana got to grips with the track well. Through practice she learned the circuit and showed good pace although she was still being dogged by the understeer problems that had blighted her performance at the last round in Hampton Downs.
In the heat of qualifying where the field of 20 were covered by around 1 second it was not ideal to be having to drive around the problem so again she left herself with work to do qualifying on the penultimate row.
It was only after qualifying that the team discovered the cause of the understeer problem. Modifications made to the pedal positions had caused the throttle to remain on by 12% in corners, that along with a cracked engine mount had made the car almost impossible to set up. Problem solved, pace drop off explained! Tatiana was ready to race on a level playing field once more!
The fifteen lap round 13 of the Championship was nothing more then a settling in race for Tatiana after remedying the handling issues. A good start and she was running with teammate Nandy, Local boy Scott and British F3 National Champion Spike Goddard. Racing well she dispatched these 3 as the race progressed but the early curtailment of the race due to a heavy crash for fellow ETEC runner Jann Madenborough saw the race conclude under the safety car and preventing the opportunity for further progress.
“I had a great start and made some good moves” said Tatiana, “ but its hard work from the back, I start a bit higher in 15th tomorrow so I hope for a better result”
Tatiana made another great start, moving to the inside and refusing to be intimidated by the guys around her which included the out of position non finisher from race 1, Mardenborough.
Tatiana was making a real effort to get the result she craved. holding her nerve down the inside into turn 1, taking a host of places and running 8th on the road. It would later transpire that clutch creep had lead to a false start and she would be relegated back with time penalty.
With nothing to lose she battled hard, putting moves on fancied runners and competitors in Europe this coming season as well as passing her team mates Tanart and Tang, who she seems to regularly have the measure of.
Running in 8th position and pulling up to the gearbox of 7th at the flag, the performance was the best for a while, the car handling properly at last.
The penalty relegated her initially to 15th but further penalties for some of the front runners promoted her back to 11th and decent points.
Race 3 – The New Zealand Grand Prix – 35 laps
A fitting finale to the 15 race championship and an opportunity to experience a little pomp and circumstance with an end of season team photo and anthems ahead of the race, which as it turned out proved to be one of Tatiana’s best racing performances in a frantic race which demonstrated the competitive nature of the series across the grid.
Starting a lowly 18th the start this time was better than race 2, and thankfully legal as Tatiana show class and bravery to keep her foot in despite running on the edge of the grass to make places and keep out of position frontrunners behind her.
First lap, up to 12th and closing hard on the tail of Leitch. Lap 7 and Leitch was dispatched, on to the next runner Seralles, an F3 title contender in Britain this year and amongst the favorites for the European title this year.
In what was a very satisfying move Tatiana out raced the Porto Rican and made a great pass. This was looking classy. Attraction ahead and moves on Tang now had her running 10th and right in the mix.
Seralles was not giving up however and the two were locked in a battle for many laps, excellent racecraft by both as positions were reversed again. Onto the last lap and a move which says much about Tatiana’s development over this series as she tried around the outside of him into Turn5, wheel to wheel and running wide, the closely bunched pack behind took the opportunity and she dropped to a finishing position of 12th with no recovery time left.
Smiling after the race and happy with her performance and the TRS experience she has much to look forward to.
An announcement on Tatiana Calderons exciting 2013 European plans will follow on her return home this coming week.