Pedro Piquet and Lando Norris are greedy young men – in the nicest possible way – in a hurry this weekend.
Both want to win the Toyota Racing Series and its final race on Sunday, the New Zealand Grand Prix, at Manfeild.
English 16 year old teenager Norris has an 86 point lead over Brazilian 17 year old Piquet, his closest challenger after the previous four rounds.
“The series is more important,” said Norris, “but obviously I will still do my best to win every race.”
Norris had the fastest time in today’s practice in the cooler morning session, while Piquet was quickest in the final practice period, but only third overall for the day, when the track was hotter and a little more slippery.
Piquet is not giving up on the overall title. “If Lando has some bad luck and I get some really good results I still have a chance.”
Norris would have to not finish a race to give Piquet a fighting chance, as a win is only worth 75 points.
“If Lando does a good job and gets third or fourth then he will win the series,” said Piquet.
But having won the New Zealand Motor Cup at Hampton Downs a fortnight ago, the trophy which used to be awarded to the Grand Prix winner and has the names of four Formula One World Champions on it, Piquet now wants to win the Grand Prix, which has a new trophy since it shifted to Manfeild.
Tyre strategy may come into the equation over the three races, a 20 lap preliminary on Saturday afternoon and then a 15 lapper on Sunday morning before the 35 lap Grand Prix.
“Tyre wear here is not as bad as Taupo,” said Norris, who plans to keep one set aside after Saturday morning’s qualifying just for the Grand Prix and use the other set allowed for the two shorter races.
Winning the series or the Grand Prix will give Norris and Piquet a springboard into the rest of their year, where Piquet will compete in the European Formula Three Championship and Norris is headed for the European Formula Renault Series.
They may have to keep an eye on team-mate Jehan Daruvala who had the second fastest time of the day in the morning and Australian Thomas Randle who has only returned for the Grand Prix and had the fourth best time of the day again in the morning.
Top locals James Munro (Christchurch) and Brendon Leitch (Invercargill) were fifth and sixth fastest during practice. Both have had second places during the series and have looked capable of upsetting the visiting international drivers.
Top ten practice times from all three sessions combined.-
1, Lando Norris (England) 62.286 seconds;
2, Jehan Daruvala (India) 62.408;
3, Pedro Piquet (Brazil) 62.465;
4, Thomas Randle (Australia) 62.627;
5, James Munro (Christchurch) 62.630;
6, Brendon Leitch (Invercargill) 62.642;
7, Antoni Ptak (Poland) 62.693;
8, Ferdinand Habsburg (Austria) 62.709;
9, Artem Markelov (Russia) 62.788;
10, Kami LaLiberte (Canada) 62.810