Bob McMurray writes from the final round of the 2016 Toyota Racing Series
Clear blue sky, hot day forecast, TRS cars warming up for the two qualifying sessions and the thunderous roar of the Formula 5000 cars on track.
What a start to the day.
Welcome to Manfeild and to the 61st running of the New Zealand Grand Prix.
Qualifying for race #1 of the day the ‘Dan Higgins Memorial Trophy’ saw Thomas Randle sit the session out as he is here to win the NZGP and wanted to save his tyres for session #2, the actual NZGP qualifying.
It didn’t seem to make much difference to the challengers for the TRS 2016 championship though and they were battling for positions as the qualifying progressed.
Session #2 of the day, qualifying for the NZGP saw the battle for pole recommence but this time with Randle in the fight.
Piquet and Daruvala posted exactly the same time but as Piquet set his time first he gets the front row start position.
RACE #1 THE DAN HIGGINS TROPHY
A GOOD RACE, SIMPLE AS THAT.
Lando Norris shot away from the start and to all intents and purposes looked as if he was going to walk away with the race at a canter.
Unfortunately Safety car driver Brent Sellens had other ideas as he was called into action after the cars of Pedro Piquet and Artem Markelov collided at turn #1, Toyota, putting Piquet out of the race and Markelov driving through the pits with a penalty.
Norris controlled that restart but a second one, after the car of Theo Bean stopped just off track near pit lane exit after a tangle with Nicolas Dapero, did not go so well with Habsburg simply out maneuvering Norris to take the lead and James Munro taking advantage of Norris going wide at the last turn and slipping into second place after fighting with Daruvala.
Good racing by Munro to finish 2nd with Norris third, Daruvala fourth and then the other two Kiwis, Leitch and the ever improving Cockerton in fifth and sixth respectively.
The impressive Dan Higgins Memorial Trophy was presented by Shane Higgins to a very happy Ferdinand Habsburg.
My bad maths reckons now that only the top four can win the TRS 2016 title.
Norris, Daruvala, Piquet and Leitch.
A walk through the TR 86 cars paddock area revealed all the normal pre track activity, all apart from the serious activity going on around the car of Callum Quin.
During the evening hot laps session, Callum detected a ‘knocking’ sound coming from the gearbox / rear end area of the car.
The team decided that it was best to change out the gearbox and at 10.15am that was still being done, about 1 hour before the cars were due to be on the grid for their qualifying.
Yesterday, the car of Tiffany Chittenden was having the brakes bled and TNZ motorsport manager Steve Boyce, standing close by, offered to help by keeping the reservoir topped up with brake fluid.
His offer was gladly accepted and the mechanics set off on the job with the spanners.
Unfortunately Steve was looking at the wrong level in the reservoir and the level he was monitoring looked fine.
It was actually the wrong reservoir.
Unfortunately, being the wrong reservoir, the bleeding of the brakes finally produced a lot of air.
His heart was in the right place though, unfortunately the fluid wasn’t.
Unfortunately Simon Evans was unable to commit to driving the POST HASTE car for the rest of the weekend as his NZV8 schedule was too close in time terms to make it practical so that car, the #5, was taken over by Jayden Dodge.
Callum Quin made qualifying with time to spare and got his car into third on the grid……
Race #1 of the weekend and the first corner proved to be a bit of a challenge for both Thomas Stokes and Mike Lightfoot with a coming together of the pair.
Stokes briefly into the pits for some repairs but Lightfoot managed to carry on.
Ash Blewett had the race pretty well under control but the battle behind him was pretty busy with Quin, Penny, Scott and Jaxon Evans in close formation.
…….and that’s how they finished!