Lap times almost two seconds under the existing record were set by young American Santino Ferrucci and Indian driver Arjun Maini in test sessions for this weekend’s Toyota Racing Series races at Teretonga near Invercargill.
As the field prepared for the second round, racers were instantly quick in the fast straights and challenging infield corner sequences of the 2.57 km circuit. By the end of the Friday test sessions all 20 cars had gone under the existing lap record, a 54.28 second race lap set in 2013 by Austrian Lucas Auer.
But it was Ferrucci and Maini who pushed the benchmark lower than it has ever been in the final – and warmest – session of the day.
Maini cracked the 52 second barrier first, setting a best of 52.803 on his 16th lap of the final session.
A lap later, Ferrucci (pictured) responded with a blistering 52.574. That time stood as fastest of the day and is almost two seconds under the existing lap record.
Local racers Damon and Brendon Leitch had mixed fortunes. Older brother Damon missed logging valuable test time when his car’s transmission developed an issue, while Brendon was sixth fastest in the final session, bested by Christchurch’s James Munro who stepped up to be fastest New Zealander, fourth overall. Austrian Stefan Riener split the two Kiwi drivers, fifth fastest.
Teretonga Park is the southernmost permanent race circuit in the world and offers drivers a fresh challenge after the complexity of Ruapuna.
Extremely fast when mastered, the key to a fast lap at Teretonga is to create ‘flow’ from the long left-hand turn one to turn five. The circuit is often exposed to a strong sea breeze.
Toyota Racing Series qualifying begins at 11.00 am, two back to back sessions to decide the grids for races one and three. The grid for race two is decided by finishing positions in the first race, with a partial reverse grid decided by numbered marble draw after the race.