The 2015 Toyota Racing Series – armed with 20 of the quickest young drivers and the new FT50 race car – looks set to smash the category lap record once more as drivers prepare for the third round.
Lap records have tumbled at the first and second round of the championship. All TRS records are set during races, but the test and practice sessions are regarded as a strong indication of the weekend’s likely race pace.
Already much of the field has eclipsed the existing mark in testing on Thursday and again in practice on Friday.
Fastest of all was the championship leader, 16 year old Canadian Lance Stroll, who actually went under the outright lap record for Hampton Downs, a 59.483 set by Michael Lyons (UK). Lyons was driving a 650bhp V8 engined Lola T400 HU7 Formula 5000 during the NZ Festival of Motor Racing on 19th January 2014. Stroll set a 59. 325 to top the timesheets in practice session 2.
The TRS category lap record is a 1:00.813, set and held jointly by 2014 TRS champion Andrew Tang and 2014 NZ Motor Cup winner Martin Rump, who set identical times.
In all three Friday sessions, half the 2015 field or more were comfortably under that lap time.
The first session saw new names emerge in the top five, Callum Ilott, Thomas Randle and Sam MacLeod making the early running. Late in the session it was the fast American driver, Santino Ferrucci, who went quickest with a 1:00.108. Jamie Conroy went off the track, his car suffering no damage but bringing the session to an early close.
In the second session, with track and air temperatures ramping up and humidity at 90 per cent, Brandon Maisano was first to top the timesheets, cracking the one minute barrier on lap 13. His fastest lap was a 59.606. This set off a series of challenges with Australian Thomas Randle edging close to Maisano’s time five laps later, setting a 59.969. Then Arjun Maini stepped up with a 59.524, just outside the outright lap record, on lap 24.
Stroll’s master lap came just three minutes later and his 59.325 would stand as fastest for the day.
Hovering just outside the one minute lap were Callum Ilott (1:00.039) and New Zealanders Brendon Leitch (1:00.046) and James Munro (1:00.069).
The third and final session saw track and air temperatures hottest for the day, which prevented the field from topping Lance Stroll’s time.
Arjun Maini went quickest, a 59.498 edging him closer to the outright lap record. Six drivers were under the minute: Maini, Macleod (59.589), Stroll (59.619), Mathias Kristensen and Callum Ilott (both on 59.861), and Brandon Maisano (59.863).
The session was interrupted after ten minutes when James Munro spun off the track, hitting the tyre way. He was unhurt but the car suffered damage to its left side suspension.
Qualifying for the weekend’s three races gets under way at 11.00 am NZDST.