Colapinto fastest, but Ptacek and Van Der Helm impress

Petr Ptacek (940 x 450)

Argentina’s Franco Colapinto, the current Spanish Formula 4 champion, overcame some tricky conditions as light rain felt on a hot track to top the times in the first day’s testing for the third round of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series today at Hampton Downs.

Czech racer Petr Ptacek (pictured above) was fastest for much of the quicker second session late in the afternoon until Kiwi Motorsport’s Colapinto nipped ahead as the drivers did one final run before the end of the session.

Giles Motorsport’s Lirim Zendeli was another to show his best pace late and recorded the third quickest time of the day, while Brazilian Caio Collet, a winner last weekend in Invercargill, clocked the fourth fastest time for mtec Motorsport.

Perhaps the most impressive performance of the day came from the 16 year old Tijmen Van Der Helm for Kiwi Motorsport. The youngest racer in the field was only legally able to race at the third round having turned sixteen last weekend. He was well into his groove by the time the second session was in full swing and was a feature in the top three for the first 25 minutes of the 30 minute session before the rain came. He ended the day a solid fifth.

The first session around the twisty and challenging North Waikato circuit had seen Liam Lawson and Igor Fraga resume the fantastic battle of the previous weekend’s second round at Teretonga, with Lawson topping the timesheets and Fraga sitting just behind.

Given how close the field has been during the season so far, Lawson’s advantage of almost three tenths of a second was impressive. Zendeli was third for Giles Motorsport with Brazilian Caio Collet, a winner last weekend in Invercargill, just four hundredths of a second behind him in fourth.

Franco Colapinto was sixth, with Emilien Denner continuing to improve and build on his impressive form in his first season of car racing, which saw him win the Saturday morning race at Teretonga. He was sixth quickest.

Red Bull Junior Yuki Tsunoda clocked the seventh fastest time, with Oliver Rasmussen, Grégoire Saucy and Petr Ptacek rounding out the top ten. Series debutant Tijmen Van Der Helm clocked the 14th best time, around a second of Lawson’s best lap.

As the time tumbled in the second session, Rasmussen, Fraga, Collet and Van Der Helm all looked quick early on as the first session times were initially matched, then bettered. Ptacek was the first to make a significant gain, lapping in the 1 minute 1.3 second bracket before the rain took the edge off the lap times.

Colapinto managed to better his mark, but only by eight hundredths of a second. Behind Ptacek, Zendeli, Collet and Van Der Helm in fifth, Spike Kohlbecker had a good run to sixth, and sat ahead of Rasmussen, Fraga, Saucy and Tsunoda.

Once again the field was ultra-close, with the top ten covered by just over half a second.  There will be three practice sessions on Friday at the North Waikato track before qualifying on Saturday morning.