Pukekohe motor racing star Liam Lawson has returned home from another successful season in Europe, where he finished runnerup in the Euroformula Open (EFO) championship and won the Rookie of the year title. Lawson was signed by the Red Bull Junior programme at the start of this year and has endured an intensive year of racing in two championships across Europe.
Red Bull management wanted him to concentrate on the EFO series but they also entered him in the FIA F3 championship, racing on the undercard at eight Formula 1 race meetings. The youngest and most inexperienced driver in the 30-car field, Lawson claimed two podiums during the season, finishing 3rd at the prestigious British Grand Prix meeting at Silverstone and 2nd at the Italian GP at Monza.
Lawson raced for German team Motopark in EFO and Dutch-based MP Motorsport in all new FIA F3 series.
But it was back at Monza last weekend in the EFO car that Lawson took a hard-fought victory in the final race of the year to finish runner-up, not withstanding that he missed four races of the season due to clashes in the calendar with FIA F3.
"It means a huge amount to win the last race of the season, and the last ever in this car. Thanks to the Motopark guys for a superb car and I'd like to dedicate this win to John Fairhall, a great supporter of mine who died earlier this year," said Lawson.
The result adds to Lawson's impressive resume. In four international championships over the past three years he has now finished runner-up three times, in Australian and German Formula 4 and now EFO. Add those to two championship victories at home - New Zealand Formula Ford and the Toyota Racing Series (TRS) - and it's easy to see why the 17-year-old was in hot demand by four Formula One junior programme scouts before he accepted the Red Bull offer.
"It's been a huge year of learning to drive two completely different [race] cars but I'm really excited to be back home for a while," he said. "Living in Europe has become almost normal but there's nothing like coming home to catch up with family and friends."
While his parents have visited him during the year, he's hardly had time to miss New Zealand. Some weeks he's only been at his base in England for a few days, in-between flying to race meetings and undertaking simulator work in both the UK and Italy. Add that to his intensive training programme and his year has been full-on since he left in March after winning the New Zealand Grand Prix and TRS on debut.
Lawson is tight-lipped about his plans for 2020 but rumours suggest he may return to defend his TRS title at race tracks around New Zealand this coming summer, including the rounds at Pukekohe and Hampton Downs.