Photo: Toyota Racing Series
Pipo Derani and Lucas Auer were the drivers to beat on Wednesday as the Toyota Racing Series took to the track for the first action of 2013. with testing sessions ahead of the opening round at Teretonga this weekend.
The opening session took place for drivers with no previous experience at the circuit near Invercargill, accounting for 11 of the 18 racers signed up for the New Zealand-based series.
Perhaps unsurprisingly it was experienced Formula 3 racer Derani who clocked the fastest time with a 56.722 seconds, with Giles Motorsport teammate? Nicholas Latifi just 0.019s slower.
Dutch Formula Renault ace Steijn Schothorst was third fastest ahead of GT Academy star Jann Mardenborough who makes his single-seater race debut this weekend after impressing renowned team boss Trevor Carlin in F3 tests earlier this winter. Akash Nandy and female racer Tatiana Calderon rounded out the top six.
The remaining seven ‘experienced’ drivers joined the action for the second 60 minute session, with series returnee Auer – who claimed a double pole for the season opener at the same circuit 12 months ago – lowering the benchmark to a 55.612s. Local star Damon Leitch wound up second fastest ahead of Brazilian pair Bruno Bonifacio and Derani.
Mardenborough continued to show well in P5 ahead of defending series champion Nick Cassidy and F3 race winner Felix Serralles. Calderon, Schothorst and Alex Lynn completed the top ten.
Further sessions take place on Thursday and Friday before the action gets under way for real with qualifying and races on Saturday.