Wet conditions challenged competitors at times at Taupo International Motorsport Park today when the New Zealand Historic GP began with practice sessions and two qualifying runs.
The event, a part of the Super Sprint Motorsport New Zealand Championship, also hosts the Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship opening round, with all 17 competitors taking to the track for three official practice sessions.
Australia’s Christian Mansell is the early pacesetter, going quickest in two outings and setting the day’s fastest lap in Practice 1 with a 1:23.159.
Other competitors to go under the 1:24 barrier over the day were Formula 4 United States champion Patrick Woods-Toth, Kiwis Kaleb Ngatoa and Alex Crosbie, and American Titus Sherlock.
M2 Competition’s Roman Bilinski was the fastest in a wet second session, his 1:30.602 over four-tenths faster than teammate Michael Shin in second, while Liam Sceats was a further three-tenths behind in third.
New Zealand’s Kaden Prabst also had an excellent first outing, setting a best lap of 1:24.701 in opening practice for tenth overall, his best equal result of the day.
A 12-strong F5000 contingent ran two practices, with Steven Ross topping the opening session with a 1:28.062. Once the rain arrived, only seven cars risked the conditions to venture out for a small run in the second outing, which Kevin Ingram topped.
Renowned Kiwi racer Kenny Smith was confirmed to race in Formula Open but was forced to withdraw this morning after his 1990 New Zealand Grand Prix-winning Formula Atlantic Swift DB4 faced an engine bearing issue during last week’s testing, which was unable to be repaired in time.
Hayden Bakkerus went fastest in opening practice in an FT50, with a margin of just 0.058 seconds back to James Watson. Bakkerus backed up his performance in the second outing, topping second-quickest Dylan Grant in an FT40 by eight-tenths of a second.
Angus Fogg was treated to something special in the opening practice of the Historic Touring Cars, taking the famed ex-Allan Moffat 1974 Cologne Capri out for two laps, setting a 1:39.938, the fastest of the session that topped Arron Black (BMW E30 M3) by nearly two seconds.
Behind the wheel of the 1990 Nissan Skyline R31 GTS-R his father Jim Richards drove in the early 90s, Steven Richards qualified on the pole for tomorrow’s race. Graeme Cameron (1991 BMW M3) also lines up on the front row, with Andy Greenslade (Benson & Hedges Ford Sierra) and Greg Murphy (Ford Zakspeed Escort) on row two.
David Hopper (1969 Camaro) qualified on the pole in the Historic Saloons, Sports and GTs, topping Todd Mexted (1970 Mustang), Dennis McConnell (Ford Escort) and Mitch Mexted (1971 Ford Capri Peran), respectively.
The Historic GP also features a celebration of Holden, showcasing legendary cars and drivers who embody the brand’s very essence.
Drivers Greg Murphy, Craig Lowndes, Jack Perkins and Steven Richards will reunite with winning cars of the marque. The group will do demonstration runs daily, with vehicles ranging from the 2003 Bathurst 24-Hour winning Monaro to the 2023 Bathurst winning Gen3 V8 Supercar of Shane van Gisbergen and Ritchie Stanaway- daily. The theme continues with a Holden ‘Allcomers’ class that will race three times.
None other than Tony Quinn got behind the wheel of van Gisbergen’s 2023 Camaro on Friday to cut laps of the venue.
Saturday’s action begins with Formula Open qualifying at 9.13 am, with live television coverage for the event starting at 10.00 am on Sky Sport 7. The action returns at the same time on Sunday.
Australian viewers can also tune in via Fox Sports and Kayo while motorsport.tv will screen the event further abroad.