Friday round-up from Manfeild Park

| Photographer Credit: Bruce Jenkins

Bob McMurray writes from the final round of the Toyota Racing Series

The first session for the TRS cars under a semi blue sky and on a rapidly warming track.

Bearing in mind the lap record is 1.02.653, the first session is indicative of some very fast racing with the top four cars all posting times under that record.

Lando Norris first with 1.02.286, Daravula 1.02.408, Randle 1.02.626, Leitch 1.02 642.

The Randle time was set just one lap before he had a pretty lurid spin but managed to rejoin across the infield with no damage.

As the saying goes, “if you don’t spin at some point then you are not trying at any point”.

The rest of the top ten times were….Ptak 1.02.693, Munro 1.02.706, Piquet 1.02.742, Markelov 1.02.788, Habsburg 1.02.809, Laliberte 1.02.810.
All the top ten within .524 seconds.

One casualty of the first practice was the front left suspension of Devlin de Francesco’s car.

Still actually attached to the car but distinctly looking in an odd direction after the driver clipped the wall after going wide at turn 1 after about fifteen minutes of the session starting.

The front left took the brunt of the introduction to the tyre wall.

This was on his first flying lap after fitting new tyres so they look a bit second hand now.

The lunchtime session came and the Lexus ‘media’ rides took advantage of some clear track.

Tom Alexander was driving the TR 86 car and Grant Aitken was driving the Lexus GSF.

I went in search of, and found, a telephone box.

In to the box I leapt and stripped off my ‘Ambassador’ suit revealing my ‘media’ suit underneath, then stepped out of that box with dramatic music blaring and slipped into the line of media.

‘Media man’ had arrived.

Just three people in front of me and my turn quickly came and I was privileged to have a quick lap or two with Grant in the amazing GSF.

I say amazing because it would be just that even if it were a track car but I had to remember that this vehicle was a road car.

The handling and performance were staggering, extraordinary, but I guess Lexus people, be they customers, dealers or Lexus NZ people already know that.

Out of the car with a smile, thanks to Grant, back to the phone box, back into Ambassador mode (therefore it was off to lunch) with a renewed appreciation of not only the car but the talents of a race driver.

On the subject of the Lexus ‘hot laps’ sessions…..
I have been assisting, as much as I can, John Fowke with the lunchtime track rides.

Of course, those who know John will know very well that he has things organised to the hilt and under his direction things go remarkably smoothly, so I just sort of hang around and look pretty and pretend that all this organisation is down to me.
Some people actually believe me but few go for the ‘pretty’ part.

The number of existing and prospective Lexus customers that have been able, through their local dealers, to take advantage of this opportunity to get on track with professional drivers has been amazing and each lunchtime session has been fully booked up.

It is really good to see the huge smiles and occasional screams of delight when the passengers get back to the pits.
I do understand that more than a few deals have been done either at, or after these sessions.

A real ‘feel good’ operation as well as fulfilling a purpose.

TRS second session of the day and the temperature is now hovering around that 30c mark.
The track temperature is 46c plus!

The top ten for this session were……
Pedro Piquet 1:02.613, James Munro 1:02.630, Ferdinand Habsburg 1:02.828, Taylor Cockerton 1:02.869, Brendon Leitch 1:02.884,Thomas Randle 1:02.972, Antoni Ptak 1:03.059, Bruno Baptista 1:03.072, Lando Norris 1:03.078, Devlin de Francesco 1:03.091.

All good in that session and so to session #3.

Started at about 1455 and stopped at 15.03 with a car in the turn #1 gravel.

Nicolas Dapero it was. Another Giles car but this time all the important and relevant bits on the car seemed to be pointing in approximately the right direction so he was towed back to the pits.

Interestingly Dapero carries ‘Toyota Argentina’ decals on the car.
I am not sure why that should be interesting but, well, I think it is.

Top ten times were…..
Piquet 1.02.465, Norris 02.472, Daravula 02.637, Habsburg (showing a good few gravel rash burns covered with HUGE sticking plasters on his arms, a legacy of the previously mentioned Rotorua luge) 02.709, Randle 02.714, Laliberte 02.732, Baptista (B) 02.824, Munro 02.834, de Francesco 02.897 and Zhou (uncharacteristically slow?) 03.010.

The level of competitiveness is such that I mention Zhou as being slow…at just .545 of a second slower than Piquet!

Unfortunately Taylor Cockerton didn’t make it out and on to the track that session as his car experienced fuel pressure problems.

The problem was not cured until after the session ended so he was allowed to make one exploratory lap to check all was well just before the NZV8 session began.
All was well apparently.

The Toyota Finance 86 Championship cars were on track bright and early this morning with their first look at the track starting at 09.15am.

The #5 car, normally driven by Craig Innes, is today being driven by NZV8 regular Simon Evans.

Simon doing double duty this weekend as the V8 field are also racing.

You can’t keep a good Evans down.

The third session of the day was briefly interrupted by Jaxon Evans sliding his car off into the gravel at the final turn but generally all good for the day.
Good to see Simon Evans in the Post Haste supported car though.

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