Three tenths in Teretonga
Day two of practice at the second round of the 2019 Castrol Toyota Racing Series saw many of the international drivers match the pace of Round 1 sensations Liam Lawson and Marcus Armstrong and a top ten covered by as little as three tenths of a second.
While Lawson and Armstrong topped the first two sessions, the three half hour periods were notable for the emergence of other drivers who took turns at the top - or near the top - of the timesheets.
While Lawson led P1 and Armstrong P2 it was circuit expert Brendon Leitch who headed the times in the third session ahead of America's Cameron Das, who was a factor throughout the day. Armstrong clocked the best overall time across the three sessions.
Japanese Toyota scholarship driver Kazuto Kotaka - a TOM’S driver this coming season in Formula 3 - also impressed during Friday practice. One of the first into the 53 second bracket, he held second spot for much of the second practice session in the early afternoon in his mtec Motorsport car Belgian Esteban Muth, denied a debut race win in the category last weekend after a startline infringement, showed he had pace ahead of the weekend, as did Romanian Petru Florescu, Austrian Lucas Auer and Russian Artem Petrov. Also in the mix during the day as the teams worked on set up was the United Kingdom's Raoul Hyman, who sits third in the points table behind Lawson and Armstrong.
Auer had a scary moment in the third session when he came upon a slower Florescu at the fast Castrol right left combination after the fast turn one. Travelling at a much greater speed, he was forced to take avoiding action and speared off the track, getting airborne before the car landed heavily on its front wheels and buried itself in the sand trap. Thankfully there was little damage to the car and no damage to the driver.
During a competitive day when the top ten were covered by little more than three tenths of a second, the pace was starting to approach the Castrol Toyota Series Teretonga lap record, held by current Racing Point Force India and former Williams F1 driver Lance Stroll, who clocked a 53.109 lap at the circuit in 2015.
Qualifying for the first race of three over the weekend gets the green light just after 11am with the race at 3.30pm.