Wanganui teenager Earl Bamber has topped the early running in testing and qualifying for the Toyota Racing Series at the Hamilton V8 Supercars.
Bamber, 17, posted fastest lap in testing on a drying track this morning, then capped that by taking pole position in both qualifying sessions.
Bamber was one of just a handful of drivers to break into 1:24 second laps. His fastest lap, a 1:24.2408, was set on lap five in the second qualifying session.
It was the overall fastest lap of the day, eclipsing even the 500 kW V8 Supercars.
In the first qualifying session, Bamber set a time of 1:24.3348 to take pole for the first race. Second fastest in that session and lining up alongside Bamber for the first race at 1.15 pm on Saturday was Australian driver Nathan Antunes, who posted a best lap of 1:24.8778. Both Bamber and Antunes set their times on the last lap of the session.
Former Bathurst winner and V8 Supercar driver Jason Bargwanna, making a one-off appearance in the series, made a cautious start and was fifth fastest in testing and 11th fastest in session 1.
In the second session, Bamber once more set his stamp on the time sheets, posting his pole-winning time of 1:24.2408 on the fifth lap of eight.
Jason Bargwanna once again made a cautious start, posting a best of 1:26.6596 on the fifth lap but overshooting a corner and spinning on the next lap.
Nathan Antunes completed only three laps but still psoted a time good enough for third on the grid. He was forced to drive down an “escape” road after Mitch Cunningham spun in front of him at the hairpin, then broke an axle when he tried to spin the car around and rejoin.
The 2008 TRS champion, Andy Knight, only placed sixth in the first session after bending a rear suspension pushrod but bounced back to line up alongside Bamber on the grid for the second race with a 1:24.4782.
Four drivers recorded times in the 1:24 bracket in the second session.
Making an early start in TRS are 2008 Formula Ford champion John Whelan and Andrew Waite, who was third in this year’s Formula Ford series. Dunedin driver Whelan set times of 1:27.2774 in the first session and 1:26.4391 in the second. Waite set times of 1:26.599 and 1:25.4299. Both reported no problems in either session.
It is the first street race for the bio-fuelled Toyota single seaters. The series is New Zealand’s premier single-seater category, and the fastest in the “Tier One” summer motor race series.
The top cars are reaching 230 km/h on the long front straight of the 3.4 kilometre street circuit, dropping to a low of 60 km/h at the tightest corner.
Race One, Toyota Racing Series, Hamilton 400
1.15 pm Saturday April 19
Race Two, Toyota Racing Series, Hamilton 400
9.15 am Sunday April 20