The Trans-Tasman TA2 Series has roared to life at Ruapuna, with Australia’s Nathan Herne leading the way through four practice sessions on Friday.
Herne, a two-time Australian TA2 champion who now races in the US, was convincingly fastest across all four outings in the #29 Dodge Challenger, setting the benchmark as the man to beat once racing begins on Saturday.
Ben Stewart also announced himself as a contender in the #43 Chevrolet Camaro, going second fastest in practices one and two, fourth in practice three and third in the final run. He was the quickest Kiwi in all sessions.
Herne was quick to get to work at Ruapuna, establishing a grip on the field from the early laps and setting a 1:29.154 to top Stewart by 0.570 seconds in first practice, with Kiwi Brent Collins (Dodge Challenger) in third, a second off the pace of the lead pair.
As the weather cleared and temperatures increased, times quickly improved, with Herne going 1.3 seconds faster in session two, bettering Stewart by 0.532 seconds. Collins was again third, 0.316 seconds behind his compatriot, while Australians Graham Cheney (Chevrolet Camaro), Brad Gartner (Dodge Challenger) and Mark Crutcher (Ford Mustang) weren’t far behind.
Kiwis Peter Ward (Chevrolet Camaro), Steven Ross (Chevrolet Camaro), Andrew Turner (Ford Mustang) and Brett Rudd (Chevrolet Camaro) rounded out the top ten.
Herne upped the ante even further come afternoon, his best lap of 1:27.389 topping Crutcher by 0.849 seconds, with Cheney a further one-tenth behind.
Stewart was 1.1 seconds off the pace of his Australian rival as the fastest Kiwi, while Collins completed the top five.
Herne only completed five laps to close out the day but became the first competitor in the series to creep under the 1:27 barrier, his 1:26.864 nine-tenths faster than Cheney, with Stewart one-tenth behind in third.
Collins kept the pressure on the Australian front-runners to go fourth quickest, ahead of Gartner, Ward, Greg Keam (Ford Mustang), Turner and Michael Coulter (Chevrolet Camaro).
The Trans-Tasman TA2 Series returns to the track at 10.38 am on Saturday to qualify ahead of Race 1 at 1.59 pm. Two further races follow on Sunday, the first at 10.32 am and the feature at 2.13 pm.
The series then heads south to race at Highlands Motorsport Park, supporting the New Zealand Grand Prix. The Jason Richards Memorial Trophy is up for grabs for the winning team.
All sessions will be broadcast live on Sky Sport.
Header Image: Joel Hanks