Aucklander Ash Blewett began the weekend as he means to continue, dominating the first test session of the day and setting a 1:17.877 benchmark for the field to match if they could. Jaxon Evans – Australian based but with close ties to Manfeild – was the only driver to go close to Blewett’s time, posting a second-fastest 1:18.370.
Michael Scott has won two races in the series and was third fastest in the opening session, setting a 1:18.625.
The rookie battle heats up as the championship enters the penultimate weekend of racing: Ryan Yardley of Christchurch has a narrow points lead, but Aucklander Jacob Smith was seventh fastest overall and quickest rookie on 1:18.899 ahead of Yardley whose best was a 1:18.933.
Making his TR 86 debut was Simon Evans, V8 racer and brother of TRS champion Mitch. Running in the Post Haste car used earlier in the series by Craig Innes, he was sixth fastest.
John Penny was struggling for pace, down in ninth overall.
The second session was in warmer air and track temperatures, which meant slower lap times. Blewett once again went quickest, and Jaxon Evans was second, both about half a second slower than session one. Reid Harker stepped up to third overall, John Penny was fourth and Simon Evans was fifth.
Through the first two sessions none of the field went close to race lap record speed. Outgoing champion Tom Alexander holds the TR 86 race lap record at Manfeild, a 1:17.729. Prior to the weekend, he has spent time with Tiff Chittenden working on car setup and racing lines with her.
In the final session of the day, Callum Quin set the early pace, though times were once more slower than the morning session.
Then on his ninth lap Jaxon Evans brought out the red flag when he slid off at the long fast Pepsi corner, regaining the track without damage.
Michael Scott of Te Puke was fastest, setting his best time of the day, a 1:18.425. Second was Callum Quin, with Ash Blewett third. Ryan Yardley was fifth and fastest rookie; John Penny was eighth and fastest masters-class entry.