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Xie opens CTFROC account with fine win at Taupo

China’s Gerrard Xie took a fine win in the second race of the opening Castrol Toyota FR Oceania weekend at the Taupo Motorsport Park today, passing long-time leader Alex Crosbie in style to win a dramatic race.

Two Safety Car periods kept the field close and in the last few laps the crowds enjoyed a four-way battle with Crosbie, Xie, Roman Bilinski, Liam Sceats and a fast-closing Patrick Woods-Toth all in the mix.

A superb pass under braking for the final chicane with two laps to go was enough to win it for Xie, and he was delighted to get his first victory in the reverse top eight race having started third on the grid.

“I’m speechless to be honest,” said the second Chinese driver to win in the championship after F1 driver Guanyu Zhou. “I managed to get the overtakes done quite well and come home first. I thought I had a chance after the last Safety Car when I saw Alex slowing a bit so that was my focus.”

A clean start saw Crosbie win the drag race to the first corner and he led at the end of the lap, from Sceats, Tommy Smith, Shin, Bilinski, Kaleb Ngatoa, Christian Mansell, Woods-Toth and Lucas Fecury. Lap three brought the first Safety Car period after Kiwi Motorsport’s Titus Sherlock and M2 Competition’s Nicola Lacorte made contact and left Sherlock’s car stranded with damaged front suspension.

At the restart Crosbie raced out to a lead of around a second and a half but at that point those behind started to pick up their pace having had an opportunity to cool their tyres in the searing heat.

It didn’t last long, however, as a second Safety Car period slowed the field to a train again when Fecury and Kiwi Kaden Probst also tripped over eachother requiring Fecury’s car to be moved out of the gravel trap. Both, however, were able to rejoin.

As the laps ticked down the drivers with more experience on the Pirelli tyre began to come to the fore. Both Xie and Bilinski were homing in on the front and it was only a matter of time before they both managed to find a way past the impressive Crosbie. There was some consolation for Alex, however, as he held off Liam Sceats to be top Kiwi in the race.

Fifth was a mighty impressive performance for Patrick Woods-Toth, who finally seemed to be on top of a few niggles that had come at the worst moments over the weekend. His speed through the field was breathtaking and fifth was a superb result for Kiwi Motorsport’s after the young Canadian’s charge from P16 on the grid.

Elsewhere front runners Ngatoa and Mansell had a decent coming together towards the end, robbing both of a chance for a decent points haul.

Lacorte survived his dramatic race to record his first top ten result with sixth, while Smith eventually finished seventh from his front row start, with Michael Shin eighth, Elliott Cleary taking another top ten result in ninth and Landan Matriano-Lin enjoying a much better day to take tenth for Giles Motorsport.

Mansell’s mechanics at Giles Motorsport will have a busy few hours repairing damage to his car before he takes up the pole position for this afternoon’s Denny Hulme Trophy feature race. A unique trophy – incorporating the actual trophy Denny won for his last Formula One victory at the 1974 Argentine Grand Prix – awaits the race winner.

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