There are two different agendas among the leading drivers in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series which continues with the fourth round at Bruce McLaren Motorsport, Taupo this weekend.
Melbourne’s Thomas Randle and Dutch teenager Richard Verschoor are focused on the championship, while Kiwis Marcus Armstrong and Brendon Leitch just want to win races after frustrating outings in the first three rounds.
“I’m not worried about the championship,” said Christchurch’s Armstrong who was third fastest in final practice. He currently lies fifth on the points table. “I don’t even know all the point’s positions.”
Invercargill’s Leitch wants to put the last two weekends behind him, when he had starting positions on the front two rows of the grid, but did not convert them into any top results.
“I’m just going to go out there and do the best I can.” He was second fastest in the final practice.
The man they could all be chasing is again Randle, who was fastest in both qualifying sessions at Hampton Downs and won the New Zealand Motor Cup.
He was fastest in practice, psychologically five places in front of Verschoor, who is 22 points in front of him with this weekend’s three races and then three more at the New Zealand Grand prix meeting at Manfeild next weekend still to go.
As always Saturday morning’s two quick fire qualifying sessions are crucial for the all-important starting positions near the front of the field. At Taupo it is even more important.
“New tyres are only good for about four of five laps,” said Leitch. “You’ve got to time your effort just right.” At other tracks a set of new tyres last longer before they lose their ultimate grip and best performance.
All the drivers get two new sets of tyres to use at the start of the two qualifying sessions and then have to continue using them over the three races throughout the weekend.
“The pumice dust here just seems to take the edge off the tyres sooner,” said Leitch.
The third Kiwi in the field, Pukekohe’s Taylor Cockerton, was fourth fastest in practice to complete the best collective showing by the Kiwi trio since the Castrol Toyota Racing series started at Ruapuna last month.
Top ten practice times:
1, Thomas Randle (Australia) 1 minute 22.994 seconds;
2, Brendon Leitch (Invercargill) 1.23.051;
3, Marcus Armstrong (Christchurch) 1.23.070;
4, Taylor Cockerton (Pukekohe) 1.23.097;
5, Richard Verschoor (Netherlands) 1.23.379;
6, Kami Laliberte (Canada) 1.23.637;
7=, Harry Hayek (Australia), Ferdinand Habsburg (Austria) 1.23.658;
9, Pedro Piquet (Brazil) 1.23.682;
10, Enaam Ahmed (England) 1.23.682