Rnd 1 Timaru International Motor Raceway (Levels) Day One Report World first for Toyota Racing Series The eyes of many in the world of motorsport were focused on Timaru, New Zealand, when 17 Toyota Tatuus single seater race cars hit the track...
Rnd 1 Timaru International Motor Raceway (Levels)
Day One Report
World first for Toyota Racing Series
The eyes of many in the world of motorsport were focused on Timaru, New Zealand, when 17 Toyota Tatuus single seater race cars hit the track for their first-ever race on Saturday 8 January.
The Toyota Racing Series is a new initiative for New Zealand motorsport and, subject to a satisfactory first season, is expected to contribute to the development of similar Toyota series around the world.
Many of New Zealand's most highly regarded single seater drivers have committed to the Toyota Racing Series, and feedback from today's first qualifying and race sessions indicates the drivers' enjoyment with the nimble, powerful 'wings and slicks' Toyota Tatuus cars.
Official qualifying was held in very wet conditions, which added pressure for all drivers who were already filled with nervous anticipation as they took their Toyota-engined cars around the Timaru circuit for the first few laps.
Local Timaru driver Brent Collins showed both his driving talent and familiarity with the circuit to set the fastest lap time of 1:08.919, thus taking pole position for the inaugural Toyota Racing Series race later in the day.
Young Palmerston North driver Brendon Hartley was next fastest with a time of 1:09.023, followed by the veteran of 47 years of motor racing Ken Smith with a time of 1:09.110. Hartley was particularly pleased with his qualifying time, given he had spun during the session on the sodden tarmac.
Hartley had a better start than pole-setter Collins to lead the 17-strong field into the first corner and then continued his tidy, controlled drive on a dry track to hold the lead through to the chequered flag.
Hartley, who turned 15 less than two months ago, said: "I was nervous before the start -- I think we all were -- but I got a clean start and that was great. I'm really pleased to have the first race under my belt and great to win it too. I could see Brent (Collins) and Daniel (Gaunt) behind me, but not the rest of the field."
Collins drove quickly and cleanly to keep a strong second place throughout the 12 lap race, and in doing so posted the fastest lap time -- 1:00.574 -- thus setting the first-ever lap record for this new Toyota class.
Having qualified in sixth place, 19-year-old Daniel Gaunt passed fellow competitors Ken Smith and James Cressey -- fourth-placed Andy Knight having dropped out with a spin at the hairpin -- to take over and keep third place. In fact, the top three -- Hartley, Collins and Gaunt -- started to stretch out a slight lead over the rest of the field by the sixth lap.
Toyota Racing Series category manager Barrie Thomlinson expressed similar sentiments to the drivers regarding the relief that the first race was successfully completed.
"We've had a vision of what we want the Toyota Racing Series to be and we've been working hard to realise that vision. It's very pleasing -- and a relief -- to have the first day of qualifying and racing completed," said Thomlinson, who runs Toyota Racing Management with his wife, Louise.
"It's great to see it all come together on the day and to see young drivers like Brendon Hartley and Brent Collins demonstrate their talent in these nimble little Toyota Tatuus cars in such a tangible way -- on the track.
"The international interest in the Toyota Racing Series is considerable and we've been fielding calls from Europe and Australia from those keen to know the results of the first race."
The Toyota Racing Series has created a new class of single seater racing in New Zealand and features as one of the top-billing classes in the four of the final five rounds of 2004-05 Mike Pero MotorSport Series, New Zealand's premier motor racing series.
The Toyota-engine, Tatuus-chassis race cars compete in two races on Sunday 9 January on the Timaru International Motor Raceway circuit -- one of 12 laps and one of 16 laps. Starting grid positions are determined by fastest lap times in the previous race, which means that Brent Collins will again be on pole with Brendon Hartley alongside in grid position two.
<pre> 2005 Toyota Racing Series, Round 1
Official Qualifying, Saturday 8 January Pos Driver Hometown Qualifying Time 1. Brent Collins Timaru 1:08.919 2. Brendon Hartley Palmerston North 1:09.023 3. Ken Smith Auckland 1:09.110 4. Andy Knight Christchurch 1:09.148 5. James Cressey Auckland 1:09.202 6. Daniel Gaunt Auckland 1:09.253 7. Wade Cunningham Auckland 1:09.766 8. Chris Pither Palmerston North 1:09.771 9. Matthew Hamilton Christchurch 1:09.805 10. Tim Edgell Auckland 1:09.828 11. Ben Harford Lower Hutt 1:10.103 12. Walter Grubmuller Monaco 1:11.376 13. Ben Crighton Auckland 1:12.137 14. Mark Munro Christchurch 1:12.266 15. Duane Spurdle Auckland 1:14.341 16. Kim Crocker Tauranga 1:15.341 17. Fiona Hamilton Christchurch 1:18.473
Race 1 12 laps, grid start Pos Driver Hometown Fastest Lap 1. Brendon Hartley Palmerston North 1:00.770 2. Brent Collins Timaru 1:00.574 lap record 3. Daniel Gaunt Auckland 1:00.868 4. James Cressey Auckland 1:00.779 5. Matthew Hamilton Christchurch 1:00.851 6. Ken Smith Auckland 1:01.437 7. Ben Harford Lower Hutt 1:01.022 8. Chris Pither Palmerston North 1:09.771 9. Wade Cunningham Auckland 1:09.766 10. Ben Crighton Auckland 1:02.583 11. Walter Grubmuller Monaco 1:03.041 12. Mark Munro Christchurch 1:02.877 13. Tim Edgell Auckland 1:01.603 14. Kim Crocker Tauranga 1:03.574 15. Fiona Hamilton Christchurch 1:05.702 16. Duane Spurdle Auckland 1:04.500 DNF Andy Knight Christchurch