After an intriguing day of practice, it’s clear Highlands Motorsport Park is showing no mercy for this weekend’s South Island Endurance Series opener.
Paul Martin shunted heavily at the infamous bridge section during the first practice session this morning.
His Honda S2000 was left bearing significant front-end damage.
While Martin’s weekend looks to be over, he is reportedly feeling ok.
A wheel nut failure at turn five then put an early end to Jack Milligan’s session.
The incident could have ended much worse for Milligan given the section of track he was at when the failure occurred.
Ultimately, it was only 0.036s separating the SBT Motorsport McLaren and Hamilton Motorsport Nissan GT-R for the top spot in the three-hour class.
Glenn Smith and Glen Chappel ensured the McLaren ended the day fastest. Their best lap – a 1.33.832s – came in the day’s second session.
Lance Hughes and Chris van der Drift saved their quickest time – a 1.33.868s – until the final session.
Both cars are comfortably the favourites for victory tomorrow.
However, the likes of the Scott O’Donnell/Allan Dippie 991 GT3R and the Nick Ross/Sam Collins MARC II V8 were only a handful of seconds further back in each session.
Fuel loads and the life of tyres used by each team are under wraps, so all is to play for in qualifying tomorrow morning.
This year sees two one-hour races per round following a large influx of entries.
In the Class C and D race, series rookie Ryan Wood went quickest in two of the three practice sessions.
His best time of a 1.35.559 ended up nearly three seconds clear of the nearest car, that being series returnees Chris and Johnny Small.
Like Wood, the Smalls had only done a handful of testing before today. However, early indications look promising for the pair of them.
Former champion Marco Schelp finished the day three-tenths behind the Smalls.
Of the non-Porsche entries in the race, the Ford Focus MARC driven by Jordan Michels and the V8 Toyota 86 of Chris Henderson were among the best of the pacesetters.
Michels topped the first practice session and his best lap of the day ended up being fourth overall. Henderson was fifth fastest but is yet to crack under the 1.40s bracket.
Despite being the ‘slower’ of the two one-hour fields, the Class A and B race could be one of the more enthralling affairs tomorrow.
Three different drivers topped today’s sessions, with the overall best lap set by Andre Simon in his Toyota 86.
The Hyundai i30 N of Scott O’Donnell finished two-tenths slower on combined times.
Sadly, like us, Sky TV cannot leave Auckland, meaning there will be no televised coverage of tomorrow’s racing.
However, the SENZ radio app will be broadcasting their own stream of the action, beginning from 9 am.
You can download the app through Google Play and the Apple app store.
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