Lawson, Kotaka and Leitch lead Friday sessions
Friday practice at the 64th New Zealand Grand Prix meeting - the final round of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series - proved to be super competitive with three different drivers topping the sessions.
Lawson topped the times in the morning in very fast conditions at the Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon with a blistering 1.02.5 lap, a quarter of second up on his major championship rival Marcus Armstrong who was second fastest. Lawson's lap was one of the quickest ever Toyota Racing Series laps of the track. Lucas Auer, a winner at Taupo last weekend, went third and Japanese Toyota Scholarship racer Kazuto Kotaka was fourth quickest just a whisker behind.
Kotaka - revelling in the challenges of the cambered corners of the Manfeild track - went even better later and topped the timesheets in the second session. Armstrong was again second, a fraction ahead of an impressive Parker Locke for Victory Motorsport. The second session was one of the closest of the championship, with the top 16 drivers covered by just eight tenths of a second.
Brendon Leitch also upset the form book by going quickest in third session, pushing Lawson and Armstrong back into second and third. Australian Calan Williams was fourth in that session.
Veteran Kenny Smith, fast tracking himself to his 48th New Zealand Grand Prix start on Sunday, progressed throughout the day's three sessions and was getting within a second of a decent of a midfield time, with plenty more to come on Saturday morning qualifying.