Home News Toyota Racing Series season gets underway at Hampton Downs

Toyota Racing Series season gets underway at Hampton Downs

by Elliot Wood

Photo: Tayler Burke

The Toyota Racing Series season kicked off at Hampton Downs with free practice split into two groups and Brendon Leitch setting the pace.

The 16-car grid was split into two, with eight cars in each session. Most of the established racing stars were put into Group A, while the current junior single-seater racers were mostly put in Group B.

Australian Supercars stars Shane van Gisbergen were the pacesetters in Group A, with van Gisbergen initially on top before Murphy took over towards the middle of the session.

The final five minutes were cut off by a red flag, leaving almost 15 seconds covering the spread of the field with the returning Kenny Smith – who will be making his 50th New Zealand Grand Prix start this weekend – setting a 1m46.689s lap.

In Group B, Leitch went fastest with a 1m31.684s, 0.283s faster than Murphy’s Group A benchmark.

Two-time series champion Gaunt went straight to the top at the start of the second 20-minute session, with Leitch then breaking into the 1m32s and making small gains lap by lap in first place.

Gaunt was gradually shuffled down the order as in the final few minutes karting graduate Matthew Payne, Utes racer Tom Alexander and Formula Ford graduate Josh Bethune all made improvements.

Payne ended up in second, with Gaunt rising back up to third, while FFord graduate Kaleb Ngatoa didn’t set many laps early on but ended up going faster than Bethune at the end.

Free practice results
Pos Driver Group A Group B
1 Brendon Leitch 1m31.684s
2 Greg Murphy 1m31.967s
3 Shane van Gisbergen 1m32.012s
4 Matthew Payne 1m32.046s
5 Daniel Gaunt 1m32.592s
6 Tom Alexander 1m32.626s
7 Damon Leitch 1m32.833s
8 Chris van der Drift 1m33.002s
9 Conrad Clark 1m33.058s
10 Kaleb Ngatoa 1m33.276s
11 Josh Bethune 1m34.131s
12 Billy Frazer 1m34.461s
13 Peter Vodanovich 1m34.462s
14 Andre Heimgartner 1m34.599s
15 Chris Vlok 1m35.215s
16 Kenny Smith 1m46.689s