QUALIFYING SESSION ONE - 11:00am Warm and overcast conditions greeted the Formula Holden field for their first qualifying session of the weekend at Auckland's Pukekohe circuit. NRC Racing drivers Andy Booth and Matthew Halliday completed a...
QUALIFYING SESSION ONE - 11:00am
Warm and overcast conditions greeted the Formula Holden field for their first qualifying session of the weekend at Auckland's Pukekohe circuit. NRC Racing drivers Andy Booth and Matthew Halliday completed a series of fast laps in pursuit of fastest driver Simon Wills, whose superb 52.803 second lap secured Pole position by over half a second from NRC Racing driver Andy Booth (53.360s).
Booth scored his second front row start of the 2000 Tasman Cup Series with hard charging NRC Racing team mate Matthew Halliday slotting into the third spot for Sunday's first 28 lap race with his fastest lap of 53.653s.
Andy Booth did not find the changes to the Propecia / NRC Reynard 95D to his liking during the session, suffering from an unstable rear suspension in the all important high speed corners of this sweeping 2.9 kilometre circuit. Given the instability of his car during the session, he estimated the lost time per lap to be in the vicinity of 3/10ths of a second at least. Given this scenario, Booth's front row qualifying effort was exceptional.
Matthew Halliday's third fastest lap was a reward for the hard work that this talented driver and team has completed to gain more speed at this super fast circuit in the Turners Auctions / Empower NRC Reynard 95D. While still 8/10ths of a second behind Wills' sub-record lap, Halliday reported excellent grip and handling that improved steadily as the session neared the closing stages. The Aucklander's straight line speed has increased steadily all weekend, the team using the two hour break before the second qualifying session to ensure that the car was even further improved.
QUALIFYING SESSION 2 - 2:40pm
The 2000 Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix qualifying session in the much warmer afternoon at Pukekohe provided an ultra close battle for the top five grid positions. Once again it was Simon Wills who set the pole at 52.777s ahead of team mate Leroy Stevenson (53.328s) and NRC Racing's Andy Booth, who powered his ill handling Propecia / NRC Reynard 95D to the third spot on Sunday's NZGP grid, missing out on a second front row start by just 8/1000ths of a second!
Turners Auctions / Empower NRC Reynard 95D driver Matthew Halliday will start the 2000 Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix from 4th on the grid after his fastest lap of 53.943s, with Aussie Paul Dumbrell 5th (54.013s) and rookie American driver Emerson Newton-John (54.307s) starting from 6th.
Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy race winner Andy Booth only fractionally missed out on another front row start in the Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix Series and has his sights set on two strong performances tomorrow.
"The problems we encountered with rear end stability became worse during this session, I tried as hard as I could to wring a fast time out of the car but struggled to match our first session times. We can see on the data what the car is doing and will make the changes to rectify it tonight. The warm up tomorrow will enable us to ensure that we have a strong race car," Booth said.
"We have two long races tomorrow and anything can happen, optimum race set ups will be imperative to finishing on the podium as the pace will be slower to what we have seen here today," He added.
While it has been a frustrating day for Matthew Halliday, his clear focus now will be on ensuring the race set up of his Formula Holden is as strong as possible given his proven racecraft skill.
"The changes we made to try and increase speed made the car worse in handling and I am still frustrated by engine power problems as well. Adding to that I lost a heap of time when Andy spun in front of me and I had no choice but to run off the circuit to avoid a crash. We have lost 3/10ths from this morning and this will give the team a big job to do tonight to get back to the best race set up possible for tomorrow," Halliday said.
"While we are having some problems, I wouldn't write us off yet - the races tomorrow will be tough and the second to fifth fastest drivers are very close in respect to their lap times. We need to ensure that we have a strong race pace for tomorrow and that is our focus now," the 21 year old Auckland driver added.
Premier open wheeler racing action starts at Pukekohe on Sunday December 3 with the first 28 lap Tasman Cup race at 11:30am followed by the 40 lap 2000 New Zealand Grand Prix at 4:15pm. (The Formula Holden warm up is scheduled for 9:30am).