Formula Regional Oceania conducted three free practice sessions at Manfeild on Friday, and also ran two test sessions exclusively for Louis Foster.
The reigning USF Pro 2000 champion, who is making his FRegional debut this weekend, missed the two pre-event test sessions on Thursday and also missed FP1 on Friday.
Toyota Gazoo Racing New Zealand, who run FRegional Oceania, explained to Formula Scout that Foster – whose entry into the series was only confirmed on Thursday – had been waiting to get access to his passport (as it was being used to get his USA visa for 2023) and as a result he missed the first two rounds of the season.
By the time he got his passport back, Foster could only fly to New Zealand overnight in time to reach Manfeild this Friday morning and with no seat fitting for his car.
“Because this weekend we have some freedom in terms of schedule for Friday, we were able to schedule sessions for him to recover the missed ones yesterday,” said TGR NZ’s motorsport manager Nicolas Caillol.
The first ‘shakedown’ session to feature Foster running solo on track was scheduled for 20 minutes, with a follow-up ‘test’ session lasting 25 minutes. Foster added to Formula Scout that the series’ decisions “are helping me catch up”.
He took nine laps before setting a 1m04.528s in his shakedown running, which would have put him in ninth place in FP1.
His Giles Motorsport team-mate Ryan Shehan set the pace in that session, where the top four was split by less than a tenth of a second. Shehan’s 1m04.063s lap put him just 0.028s ahead of Billy Frazer, who along with Giles duo Adam Fitzgerand and Foster is another new addition to the entry list.
Frazer’s car will be operated this weekend out of Kiwi Motorsport’s garage, but it will be entered by series newcomer Hamilton Motorsport.
Josh Mason and James Penrose, both Kiwi Motorsport drivers, were third and fourth fastest in FP1.
All 16 drivers were on track for FP2, and points leader Charlie Wurz – who was ninth in FP1 – became the first driver to lap sub-1m40s. He was fastest in the session by 0.365s ahead of M2 Competition team-mate Liam Sceats.
Callum Hedge made it an M2 1-2-3, with Mason and Foster in fourth and fifth. The top three, Foster, Jacob Abel and David Morales were the only drivers to improve on the pace they had set in their first session.
Rain arrived between Foster’s test and FP3, and the debuting Brit ended up being the fastest in the wet conditions. Laptimes were several seconds slower than earlier in the day, and Foster was fastest by 0.312s over Hedge. Wurz was a further 0.088s back, while the rest of the field were over 1.2s behind.
Free practice [+Foster sessions] results
|1||Charlie Wurz||M2 Competition||1m03.845s||52|
|2||Ryan Shehan||Giles Motorsport||1m04.063s||+0.218s||65|
|3||Billy Frazer||Hamilton Motorsport||1m04.091s||+0.246s||56|
|4||Josh Mason||Kiwi Motorsport||1m04.127s||+0.282s||56|
|5||James Penrose||Kiwi Motorsport||1m04.130s||+0.285s||53|
|6||Chloe Chambers||Giles Motorsport||1m04.188s||+0.343s||63|
|7||Liam Sceats||M2 Competition||1m04.210s||+0.365s||56|
|8||Callum Hedge||M2 Competition||1m04.225s||+0.380s||48|
|9||Adam Fitzgerald||Giles Motorsport||1m04.235s||+0.390s||52|
|10||Ryder Quinn||M2 Competition||1m04.267s||+0.422s||64|
|11||Tom McLennan||Kiwi Motorsport||1m04.371s||+0.526s||63|
|12||Louis Foster||Giles Motorsport||1m04.373s||+0.528s||71|
|13||David Morales||M2 Competition||1m04.491s||+0.646s||58|
|14||Jacob Abel||Kiwi Motorsport||1m04.509s||+0.664s||53|
|15||Lucas Fecury||Kiwi Motorsport||1m04.655s||+0.810s||57|
|16||Bree Morris||Giles Motorsport||1m05.109s||+1.264s||56|