Auckland schoolboy Mitch Evans took the final test session honours at Hampton Downs today, but the race weekend is wide open as the Toyota Racing Series takes to the track for its first competition outing on the new circuit.
Experienced Estonian driver Sten Pentus dominated three of the four sessions, Evans only managing to top the timesheets on the 2.63 kilometre track in the closing minutes of the final session.
Pentus posted the fastest time of the day, a 1:01.523 with a best speed of 153.894 km/h, on lap 12 of the first session.
Andrew Waite posted second fastest lap across the four sessions with a 1:01.845 at a best speed of 153.092 km/h; Evans third fastest with 1:01.935 and Earl Bamber on 1:01.969.
Tauranga driver Richie Stanaway, making the first of two appearances in the series, stood just outside this group with a string of 1:02 minute laps and a best session result of second fastest.
Others showing good speed in this first competitive outing at Hampton Downs include Taumarunui’s Daniel Jilesen, young Brazilian Lucas Foresti and Jamie McNee.
At stake this weekend is the New Zealand Motor Cup, a storied trophy with the names of every famous New Zealand racing driver on its sides.
Formerly awarded to the winner of the New Zealand Grand Prix in the years when it was raced at Muriwai, Ardmore and Pukekohe, the cup’s previous TRS winners include Andy Knight – who is racing this weekend in TRS – and outgoing champion Mitch Cunningham.
TRS action starts tomorrow morning at 11.25 am with the single 20 minute qualifying session that decides grid positions for the first two races of the weekend; in the afternoon the cars return to the track for the first ever TRS race at Hampton Downs, a 15 lap event which starts at 2.55 pm.
Sunday’s TRS racing starts with the morning’s 15-lap race at 11.35 am followed by the feature event, the New Zealand Motor Cup race at 3.30 pm. The morning’s race features a grid decided across the average of each competitor’s fastest and second fastest laps in qualifying; the Motor Cup grid is based on finish positions in that second race though the top six grid positions are reversed.
In addition to the valuable International Series points and the championship points race, there are bragging rights up for grabs: with the category making its Hampton Downs debut, a new TRS race lap record will be set this weekend. The racer who is quickest in the category may also set an outright record for the circuit in the process.