Chris van der Drift has come away from a busy opening day at Hampton Downs as the fastest driver in the New Zealand Grand Prix’s combined practice times.
Sporting a dazzlingly retro livery of Tasman Motorsport, van der Drift set the pace in the morning’s first practice session. But he would lower his benchmark in the final 30-minute session to 1m30.245s.
Being the first-ever time the Toyota Racing Series has run on the ten-corner International Circuit, there are no previous lap times to compare with today’s trio of sessions.
However, average lap times fell by well over two seconds over the day as the 16 drivers got to grips with the new layout.
Two-tenths behind van der Drift was series rookie Matthew Payne, with Brendon Leitch bringing the Dayle ITM machine home third quickest.
Andre Heimgartner was a respectable fourth, pipping Supercars rival Shane van Gisbergen by a mere 0.020s.
Being one of only a few drivers to have lapped the longer circuit configuration in an older-spec FT50, Billy Frazer made no waste of the time available to him. He ended all three practice times inside the top-six, finishing the day sixth fastest overall.
Peter Vodanovich was seventh in his first single-seater event, with Greg Murphy, Kaleb Ngatoa and Tom Alexander rounding out the top-ten.
It was a challenging day for Conrad Clarke, Chris Vlok and Joshua Bethune with the trio yet to dip below the 1m32s barrier.
Celebrating his 50th Grand Prix start, Ken Smith was 16th fastest to round out the field.
There will be one more half-an-hour practice for all drivers tomorrow at 9.45 am. The first qualifying session of the year will follow at 1.35 pm.
The 2021 TRS season then opens with a 20-lap race from 4.30 pm.
|Chris van der Drift
|Shane van Gisbergen