2000 Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix Series Round 1, Practice 3 Report from Manfeild AutoCourse New Zealand At the completion of three, 30-minute practice sessions for Sunday's opening Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix Series round,...
2000 Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix Series Round 1, Practice 3 Report from Manfeild AutoCourse New Zealand
At the completion of three, 30-minute practice sessions for Sunday's opening Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix Series round, dual Tasman Cup and NZGP winner Simon Wills (Birrana Racing Reynard 94D) topped the time sheets. Under sunny skies at Feilding's (near Palmerston) 3.03 kilometre Manfeild Autocourse, Wills finished the day with a fastest time of 61.63s to narrowly pip eighteen-year-old Australian Paul Dumbrell (Wynn's/ K Mart Reynard 93D) by 0.05s. Dumbrell, despite missing the first official session this morning, was the only other driver to record a sub-62 second lap. Wills average speed for his flying lap was 176.6km/h and stopped the clocks at just over half a second under the current outright lap record.
Behind the top two the times were exceptionally close, but with the official timing operative for the last session only, some drivers and teams had recorded quicker times earlier in the day. Andy Booth (NRC Racing Reynard 95D) was one of those who was clocked at a quicker time than that he recorded in the final session. Nonetheless, his very respectable 62.86s placed him fourth fastest right behind the second Birrana car of LeRoy Stevenson. Stevenson, like Booth, was another driver to record a quicker unofficial time during the early sessions.
In a surprise sixth fastest was Australian Formula Ford star Rick Kelly (Murphy Motorsport/ M ONE 11 Reynard 95D). Fresh from his two FF wins at Bathurst last weekend, and despite an early spin, seventeen-year-old Kelly drove brilliantly to record a 62.83s time and displace Matthew Halliday (NRC Racing/ Empower/ Turners Reynard 95D). Kelly only made the trip yesterday after regular driver Peter Hill was unavoidably detained due to business commitments. Hill will replace Kelly at next weekend's NZGP meeting at Pukekohe. Tomorrow sees two, twenty minute qualifying sessions to determine the grid for Sunday's pair of races.