Lawson, Zendeli and Collet all shine at sunny Highlands
Liam Lawson showed he means business defending his Castrol TRS title today, with a practice lap under the official lap record at the Highlands Motorsport Park.
Lawson, German Lirim Zendeli and Brazil's Caio Collet traded fastest times in the day's three sessions as blistering sunshine bathed the picturesque Cromwell track but it was the reigning champion who adapted quickest to the new car and the hot conditions to take fastest lap of the day. Three of the championship’s teams were represented at the top on the day’s timesheets, indicating a closely fought series lies ahead for the 20 drivers.
It was Collet (pictured), the French F4 champion in 2018, who put in fastest lap in the morning's first session with another sub 1 minute 29 second lap. Reigning Castrol Toyota Racing Series champion Liam Lawson was hot on his heels in second place just a tenth of a second behind. Lirim Zendeli and e-Sports icon Igor Fraga continued their impressive early form at the track with third and fourth place in the session respectively.
Red Bull Junior Yuki Tsunoda didn't have quite a good run - clocking 11th best time in the session but giving his crew at M2 Motorsport plenty of work to do before the afternoon sessions after contact with the outside wall on the final turn. Another notable performance came from karting champion Emilien Denner, the 17 year old French racer continuing to impress in a high quality field on his circuit racing debut. He clocked tenth best time, just over a second off the front-running pace.
In the afternoon's first session of thirty minutes, it was Zendeli who topped the timesheets with a 1 minute 29.4 lap time. The next eight were covered by just half a second, indicating this season's fight for the top places couple be a very tight one indeed. Caio Collet took second, with Liam Lawson third, Oliver Rasmussen fourth and Petr Ptacek rounding out the top five.
Rasmussen ended his session in the wall, however, after a high speed off that did damage to the front and rear suspension on the left side of his FT-60. Red Bull Junior Yuki Tsunoda was back into the groove very quickly after his morning off, clocking 11th best time.
Liam Lawson's record lap in the final session, lowering the mark set by Collet earlier in the day and clocking a thundering 1.28.616. The session was marred by an unlucky incident for Kiwi Motorsport with Amaury Cordeel making contact with the notorious final corner - Turn 22 - and then being hit by team mate Jose Blanco.
It was a heavy contact but both drivers were able to exit the cars on their own. A long night of repair work lies ahead for the category's oldest team to stand a chance of getting both cars back out for qualifying on Saturday morning.
Friday Practice Session 1
Friday Practice Session 2
Friday Practice Session 3