Home Formula RegionalFRegional Oceania van der Drift tops TRS Friday afternoon practice at Hampton Downs

van der Drift tops TRS Friday afternoon practice at Hampton Downs

by Ida Wood

Superleague Formula race-winner Chris van der Drift ended the first day of the Toyota Racing Series season at the top of the times at Hampton Downs.

The 34-year-old went fastest in the two Friday afternoon practice sessions for the New Zealand Grand Prix-awarding round, with the faster laptimes being set in the latter session for most of the field.

The Tasman Motorsports Group driver ended up with a 0.197-second advantage over M2 Competition’s karting graduate Matthew Payne in FP3, with series veteran Brendon Leitch denying Payne second place in FP2 by 0.002s with a late lap.

Andre Heimgartner was the quickest of the cameoing Australian Supercars drivers in fourth, with Shane van Gisbergen next best of those in seventh despite setting only five laps. Old rival Greg Murphy joined him in setting few laps late in the session and he dropped to 11th, while Kenny Smith was limited to just two flying laps as he recovers from a shoulder injury.

Van der Drift got faster by 0.845s in FP3, where Smith again only ventured out for a few laps and didn’t improve on his FP2 lap.

Formula 4 graduates Conrad Clark and Josh Bethune also relied on their laps from the earlier session, with reigning NZ Formula Ford champion Billy Frazer doing the young drivers proud by going sixth fastest.

Toyota 86 champion Peter Vodanovich was seventh fastest, on what his first weekend in single-seaters, and FFord graduate Kaleb Ngatoa got within a second of van der Drift’s pace in ninth.

Free practice results
Pos Driver FP2 FP3
1 Chris van der Drift 1m31.090s 1m30.245s
2 Matthew Payne 1m31.228s 1m30.442s
3 Brendon Leitch 1m31.226s 1m30.688s
4 Andre Heimgartner 1m31.366s 1m30.736s
5 Shane van Gisbergen 1m31.478s 1m30.756s
6 Billy Frazer 1m31.473s 1m30.950s
7 Peter Vodanovich 1m31.558s 1m31.046s
8 Greg Murphy 1m31.712s 1m31.229s
9 Kaleb Ngatoa 1m31.668s 1m31.234s
10 Tom Alexander 1m31.402s 1m31.387s
11 Daniel Gaunt 1m31.836s 1m31.413s
12 Damon Leitch 1m31.648s 1m31.461s
13 Conrad Clark 1m32.035s 1m32.286s
14 Chris Vlok 1m33.063s 1m32.186s
15 Josh Bethune 1m32.818s 1m32.844s
16 Kenny Smith 1m38.950s 1m39.160s