Van der Helm fastest, but Smith impresses

Session 1 Denner (940 x 450)

Young gun Tijmen van der Helm impressed with fastest time of the day at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon as the New Zealand Grand Prix weekend - the final round of this year's Castrol TRS championship - got underway today.

The 16 year old - racing for Kiwi Motorsport - topped both sessions during the afternoon running. Caio Collet and Franco Colapinto were also consistently near the top of the timesheets.

Championship protagonists Liam Lawson and Igor Fraga were near the front of the times in both sessions as all drivers concentrated on long runs of more than 20 laps. Henning Enqvist had an off at the circuit's fast final corner in the first session and in the later second practice period, Emilien Denner (pictured above) went off backwards at the same point.

The best lap times of the day were also very quick, just over half a second off the race lap record pace with plenty more speed set to come from the cars and the track as Friday brings three further practice sessions.

Seventy eight year old Kenny Smith was immediately impressive as he set out on his 49th New Zealand Grand Prix weekend. Having had quite a bit of track time in last year's FT50 car, he was quickly into his stride in the new FT60 and ended the day around a second off the lead pace.