Kiwis lead the way in Toyota Racing Series practice


Brendon Leitch (Invercargill) and James Munro (Christchurch) lead the way after today’s official practice for the third round of the Toyota Racing Series at Hampton Downs.

Leitch set the day’s quickest time in the morning session coming close to breaking the one minute barrier with a time of 60.017 seconds for a lap of the 2.63 kms track.

Munro was fastest in the third session with a 60.087 second lap, showing the benefits of help from double TRS champion Mitch Evans who is about to head off for another season of GP2 racing in Europe.

“Mitch’s advice has been really useful,” said Munro who improved his times through all three sessions. “He knows the track really well and I’ve been trying some slightly different lines. It comes down to the fine details.”

“He’s also helped with the set-up of the car with a few suggestions, but I think we have to find some more speed yet. It’s going to be close in qualifying tomorrow morning.”

Incredibly Munro’s time was matched by Brazilian Pedro Piquet, down to the thousandth of a second, with both drivers recording the same 60.087 seconds.

But then Piquet blotted his copy book by going off the track on the fast downhill corner at the end of the start/finish straight and damaging the left front suspension of his car, which should be repaired overnight in time for qualifying and the first 15 lap race on Saturday afternoon.

Leitch tried a different set up on his car in the second session and then continued with old tyres for the afternoon.

“I think we’ll go back to the set-up we had for qualifying,” said Leitch. “We’ve tried other things and know they don’t work.”

Series leader Lando Norris was fastest in the second session, but like Leitch continued using old tyres in the final practice period. His best time, set in the morning, was only seventh fastest on the day, with the top eight drivers separated by less than three tenths of a second.

There are two races over 15 and 20 laps on Sunday.


Toyota Racing Series

Practice times, Hampton Downs (best times from all three sessions)

1, B Leitch (Invercargill) 60.017 seconds;
2=, J Munro (Christchurch); P Piquet (Brazil) 60.087;
4, A Ptak (Poland) 60.184;
5, A Markelov (Russia) 60.231;
6, F Habsburg (Austria) 60.267;
7, L Norris (England) 60.268;
8, J Daruvala (India) 60.290;
9, G Zhou (China) 60.510;
10, B Baptista (Brazil) 60.597

The full TRS schedule is:

January 30/31 Hampton Downs, North Waikato
February 6/7 Taupo
February 13/14 New Zealand Grand Prix, Manfeild, Manawatu