Given the closeness of today’s practice sessions it’s no clearer who the Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship favourite is but a clearer picture has been painted.
Whilst the timesheets say it was New Zealander Callum Hedge who set the fastest lap of the day with his second-session topping time, all three runs saw a different driver set the fastest time.
Ryder Quinn, who is the grandson of and sponsored by circuit owner Tony Quinn, looked the real deal throughout the day and was never far from the front as he went fastest in the first session. Britain’s Josh Mason also overcame an earlier crash to set the fastest time in third practice.
Other competitors with early pace include New Zealander Liam Sceats, Austrian Charlie Wurz and American’s Jacob Abel and David Morales.
In the first of three practice sessions, Hedge and Wurz traded times for much of the 30 minutes with Quinn a consistent third just a few tenths arrear.
That changed in dying moments when the impressive Australian pipped both with a low 1 min 29sec lap. He ended the session narrowly ahead of Sceats who was another to leave his best run to late in the session.
Americans Abel and Morales were also in solid form early in the day and ran in the top six during morning practice.
The first session of the season, however, also endured the first stoppage of the season when Mason went into the wall, damaging the car’s right rear and floor and giving his Kiwi Motorsport mechanics plenty of work to do before the second session of the day.
In the second of the day’s three 30 minute sessions in hot but breezy conditions it was Hedge who topped the order, putting in the fastest lap of the day with just over ten minutes of the session remaining.
He hustled his car around in 1 minute 29.192, two and a half tenths up on Abel. That would stand as the day’s best. Wurz and Morales were next up on the timesheets with just under half a second separating the top five.
Quinn and Sceats then joined the party with laps well into the 1 minute 29 second bracket.
With three minutes to go Wurz – son of former F1 racer Alexander Wurz – put in his best lap of the session to leapfrog Quinn and go second quickest.
Mason was the surprise of the third and final session of the day, coming back from his very challenging morning to post the fastest time ahead of Wurz, Sceats, Hedge and Quinn. Further back, W Series regular Chloe Chambers clocked tenth fastest time.
The business end of the first round gets underway on Saturday with qualifying (12.05pm) and the first race in the afternoon (3.30pm).
Sunday sees another qualifying session (10am) and two races, including the weekend’s feature race, the Dorothy Smith Memorial Cup, on Sunday (1pm and 4pm).