Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon’s challenging nature was a key discussion topic among the Castrol Toyota Racing Series field ahead of this weekend’s season finale.
With only seven corners, Manfeild is not exactly the most complex track in the country. Several long sweeping turns lead onto a trio of lengthy straights.
However, the circuit situated outside Palmerston North is the only ‘other’ venue on this year’s TRS calendar.
Having spent a number of days testing and then two race weekends at Hampton Downs, Manfeild is the first chance for the six-car field to come to a new location.
The lack of running at the track among the drivers, specifically in the FT60, placed added emphasise on yesterday’s three practice sessions.
One driver who found it especially difficult to come to terms with Manfeild’s layout was Chris Vlok, who ended a tricky Friday at the bottom of the timesheets.
“I struggled a lot,” Vlok said after practice. “It has been really tough.
“Going from Hampton Downs to here, the track is really different. It has a completely different driving style.
“So, just when I was starting to feel confident [with the car], now it is back down to something to learn again.
“It is a lot more European this track, in terms of the style. There are lots of banked turns, and it is very fast flowing.
“So, while I was really excited to come and be back here, it has proven to be quite a challenge.”
Billy Frazer concluded the day with the second-fastest time in the combined standings. He says the most crucial factor of the circuit is knowing when to be patient through the corners to exploit the speed he can carry along the straights.
“It has been a while since I have been at Manfeild, with 2020 the way it was,” said Frazer.
“The thing I have learnt about today is that this circuit is all about patience.
“You have got three really long straights and it is all about the exits. So, throughout the day I have been slowly bringing those braking points further and further back, focusing on those exits.”
At the end of practice, it was championship leader Matthew Payne who had posted the fastest lap time – the only time in the 1.03s.
Drivers will now have to translate what they learnt from practice into the weekend’s first competitive session, which will be qualifying this morning from 10.15 am.
Every drivers’ fastest lap will determine the starting order for the afternoon’s second race. Their second-best lap time then dictates where each will start the day’s earlier race.
Main Image: TGRNZ