Like father like son on race track

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2013
Shaun Lawrence
CHRIS HILLOCK/ Fairfax NZ
SWIFT: Shaun Lawrence with his winning car.

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It took 19 years to add to his junior karting title, but Shaun Lawrence has finally followed his father in winning a national motorsport championship.

The Hamilton 31-year-old now has his sights on stepping up in class before racing V8 Touring Cars in 2015.

Lawrence wrapped up the Winger Suzuki Swift Sport Cup title at his third attempt last weekend, making a clean sweep of all three races in the sixth and final round at Pukekohe to clinch top honours by 70 points from second-placed Palmerston North driver Josh Drysdale.

He had gone into the final round leading by 30 points but with any one of five drivers in a position to win the championship.

Shaun, who also won a national title when he was 12 in karting's cadet class, has been into motorsport for as long as he can remember.

That is hardly surprising, given his father Graeme was a Kiwi single seater motor racing star of the 1970s, winning the Tasman series in 1970 in a Ferrari and also taking out New Zealand's Gold Star Race Championship for single seaters in the 1970-71 season driving the Ferrari, and in 1974-75  driving a Lola T332 Formula 5000 car.

''It's more of a habit than anything else,'' Shaun Lawrence said.

''I love it and wouldn't be doing anything else. I've always had an involvement from when I was two months old and went to my first motorsport meeting.

''I was bitten by the bug and it's been in my blood ever since.''

He started driving karts at age 11 and this is the third and last year racing the competitive Suzuki Swift class.

''It's a relatively cheap and cost effective class - a great entry level class but at a high level of competition and stakes,'' he said.

But now it is time to move on. Sponsorship and his own money earned from a job as a service manager at Winger Hamilton has so far paid for the $40,000 it costs to be competitive in the Swift class.

Now he wants to step up to either the new Toyota 86 series or the V8 Ute series next year, which will require double the budget, with a view to then moving on to the Australian V8 Touring Cars in 2015.

Lawrence puts this year's success down to the extra effort he put in, spending more money in the off-season in completely rebuilding his car from the ground up including engine and gearbox, his accumulated experience over the previous two years and a new strength and fitness regime under the guidance of a personal trainer.

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''That just brought up my physical strength and fitness, which helped my mental fitness as well.''

This year was the first season the one-make series for identical cars had run as a support class to the V8 Super Tourers. That meant it lost the sanction of New Zealand ntsGMotosportnte Motorsport that it had enjoyed for the previous five years.

''Our series co-ordinator decided we were better off to go with the Super Tourers.

''Because of the calibre of drivers that they ran, also the V8 Utes that was another support class we were used to running with so the fields were bigger and when you get bigger fields you get better crowds and better TV.

''It's not a sanctioned class by New Zealand Motorsport any more but it is a high profile class and still a high profile event and the kudos [for winning it] still comes with it,'' Lawrence said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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