Thomas Randle was the fastest in a packed field in final practice today for this weekend’s Castrol Toyota Racing Series at Hampton Downs in the northern Waikato.
Just four tenths of a second separated the top ten cars and the whole field was within less than a second of one another.
The tight packed field is vindication of the Toyota Racing Series one make formula, where all the cars have the same components and the only difference is the drivers and the way they set up the car’s suspension, brakes and aerodynamics in conjunction with their engineers.
Randle was the pace setter at Teretonga last weekend, qualifying on pole for one race, but throwing away the advantage when he was penalised 10 seconds for jumping the start. Then he spun away the lead in the main race.
From Melbourne, Randle lies second in the series 58 points behind Richard Verschoor of the Netherlands, who was third fastest, just edged by Jehan Daruvala (India), who won the Lady Wigram Trophy race at the opening round at Ruapuna a fortnight ago.
This weekend they will be competing for the New Zealand Motor Cup, the most prestigious trophy in New Zealand motor racing, which was first competed for in 1921. From 1953 it was awarded to the winner of the New Zealand Grand Prix held at Ardmore from 1954 and then Pukekohe from 1962 until early this century.
On it are inscribed the names of drivers who went on to win the Formula One World Championship, Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Keke Rosberg and other famous drivers including Stirling Moss, Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon.
Last year’s winner Pedro Piquet is back to defend the title. The Brazilian son of triple Formula One World Champion Nelson Piquet was sixth fastest in practice.
Christchurch’s Marcus Armstrong was the fastest local driver in fourth place, with Brendon Leitch (Invercargill) tenth and Pukekohe’s Taylor Cockerton 12th.
With practice times being so close, drivers will need to qualify near the front of the grid to have any hope of success in Saturday afternoon’s race and the New Zealand Motor Cup on Sunday afternoon.
Top ten times:
1, Thomas Randle (Australia) 60.109 seconds;
2, Jehan Daruvala (India) 60.272;
3, Richard Verschoor (Netherlands) 60.296;
4, Marcus Armstrong (Christchurch) 60.351;
5, Kami Laliberte (Canada) 60.383;
6, Pedro Piquet (Brazil) 60.394;
7, Ferdinand Habsburg (Austria) 60.413
8, Enaam Ahmed (England) 60.474;
9, Luis Leeds (Australia) 60.485;
10, Brendon Leitch (Invercargill) 60.506;
12, Taylor Cockerton (Pukekohe) 60.639.