Bob McMurray Toyota Racing New Zealand Ambassador, writes from the fourth round of the Toyota Racing Series round at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo…..
SATURDAY ON WAITANGI DAY WEEKEND
A beautiful day for some qualifying and racing.
A lot of the action out on track will be captured by an intrepid, dedicated and really quite small band of New Zealand photographers and journalists.
That small band is a bit thin on the ground around New Zealand this weekend as not only do we have the Castrol Toyota Racing Series event here at Taupo but there is also the SKOPE meeting at Ruapuna for Classic race cars and the Leadfoot Festival at Hahei on the Coromandel.
Amazing that in such a small country we still find ways to split the available audience between three huge events on the same weekend.
However, part of that small band of ‘media men’ are very definitely here with us this weekend.
Bruce Jenkins is the Castrol Toyota Racing Series ‘official’ photographer.
As well as fulfilling a similar role for the TR 86 Championship and just about every car launch and Toyota event there is.
In constant hot demand to also get on with his freelance work as a commercial landscape, wedding, fashion and just about everything else professional photographer, Bruce is also an artist, a photographic paparazzo of the highest order, he also comes with the added bonus of being best part of 2 metres tall (6ft 6inches in old money) and that is very useful in getting the shots.
With a long history travelling with the World Rally Championship, World Touring cars, MotoGp and international sport all over the world he still has a penchant for new stuff.
Especially new stuff in the camera department and that section of the industry is, like mobile phones, electronics and new gizmos on cars, evolving every day.
A couple of weeks ago the Nikon camera that Bruce has used all year was the very best available, more than adequate for the job and as up to the minute as was available.
Then Nikon, cleverly, sent him a new camera, just to try out you understand.
He was hooked and now, several thousand dollars later he has the most up to date, very best available piece of kit one can imagine.
In fact I cannot really imagine as I use my iphone for photography these days and as Bruce says “they are better to use than most modern, trick cameras”.
In fact he cannot understand why anybody who is not a professional would need anything more than that.
Good to know.
I will now not buy a Nikon camera.
The Toyota Racing on site media department on full alert, coiled and ready to strike at a moments notice.
Anticipation oozing from every pore of both Mark Baker (right) and Bruce Jenkins (in fetching fluorescent yellow).
TYRE STRATEGY is similar for most events and amongst most teams and drivers.
There is of course always some wrinkle or another that comes along to alter the course of events but basically the weekend is planned out like this.
Each team is given two sets of dry ‘slick’ tyres per weekend per car.
Except at the first event where and extra set is allowed.
THURSDAY FREE PRACTICE #1
Use the worst set available in mileage terms (or kms).
The very worst tyres are scrapped so this set is the worst of the best, if you know what I mean.
THURSDAY FREE PRACTICE #2
Similar tyres to P1 but a slightly better set if available.
FRIDAY FREE PRACTICE #1
Start on the tyres from THURSDAY P2.
FRIDAY FREE PRACTICE #2
Getting better now with the lowest mileage (kms) tyres from existing used sets.
Perhaps fit new tyres during the session if weather and performance justifies.
FRIDAY FREE PRACTICE #3
Start on same tyres as P2 and then switch to NEW tyres for remainder of session if not used in session #2
SATURDAY QUALIFYING #1
New tyre set.
SATURDAY QUALIFYING #2
New tyre set.
Tyres from Q2
SUNDAY RACE #1 (#2 of weekend)
Depending on grid position after the reverse grid.
Good starting place then new tyres.
Bad starting place then older tyres.
SUNDAY RACE #3 (Feature race of weekend)
Tyres from Q1 or, if things have not gone well in tyre management, then perhaps new or if on pole position perhaps new or the very best available.
At some tracks the tyre wear is predominantly caused by the nature of the track.
Lots of right hand corners then obviously the left side tyre will work much harder so they are often switched to the ‘kinder’ side.
At Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park (Taupo) the corner count is quite even so that is not necessary but at Hampton Downs it was very necessary.
If it is raining all weekend or in any session then the strategy will change as the wets will be the tyres of choice and the ‘slick’ (dry) tyres will be saved.
To the day then.
It started off well but then the Ssssssssanyong Utes took to the track and dumped some oil on a couple of the corners so that delayed the day before it really got started by about 30 mins.
I really don’t know why I bothered to actually report that little fact as it is quite normal.
Ssssssssanyong … on track …. oil ….on track.
Those things really would look better with a ladder and a bag of cement on the back.
Possibly a wheel barrow as well.
Marcus Armstrong on pole for Race #1 of the weekend.
An exciting and fast couple of sessions with the existing lap record threatened in both and finally smashed in Q2
Armstrong set a time of 1.23.383 in Q1 with Daruvala second on 23.436 and Leitch in third on 23.536.
Piquet 23.543, Randle 23.549, Laliberte 23.660, Verschoor 23.718, Ahmed 23.928, Habsburg 23.989 and Hayek 24.001 completed the top ten in Q1.
The tyres were really only good for 4/5 laps before the very abrasive track surface took the fast life out of them.
A characteristic of this circuit surface since it’s inception.
A red flag with about 8 minutes to go wrecked a couple of fast laps so the errant driver, Ameya Vaidyanathan, will be penalised 3 grid places for causing that red at the carousel corner complex.
Cockerton went of at turn #5 but managed to keep the car going bumping back on track.
The times for Q2 were appreciably faster with Daruvala on top with 1.22.689, Armstrong 22.703, Habsburg 22.752, Randle 22.778, Laliberte 22.781, Piquet 22.846, Leitch 22.893, Verschoor 23.006, Cockerton 23.013 and Ahmed in tenth with 23.280.
Randle had been consistently the quickest driver in the two days of practice leading into today but failed to deliver when qualifying arrived.
Happenings off track today?
Well, it is Enaam Ahmed’s 17th birthday today.
The Giles Motorsport team all came to the Toyota Finance Paddock club and eventually sang happy birthday to him, after a little bit of encouragement that is.
Jehan Daruvala’s mother and sister have arrived for the last two rounds of the series.
The story about Marcus Armstrong that I alluded to yesterday has another tail.
Michael Holland, the TVNZ journalist, actually drove a TRS Championship car at Hampton Downs in December.
It did take a huge amount of organising with, unsurprisingly, the insurance details on both sides having to be sorted but the deed was done.
That entire story will appear on 7 SHARP this coming Thursday or Friday.
It should make very interesting watching.
The LEXUS tack rides were just a little delayed in starting.
A look at the timetable showed that the Utes were on track pre lunchtime and the track needed some maintenance and repair!
It never fails to make me smile at the BIG smiles on the faces of those passengers in all of the Lexus ‘hot lap’ cars.
Especially the LFA obviously but it doesn’t seem to matter to most people just which Lexus they get in to.
At the risk of being boring (quite easy for me as I am sure you can appreciate) this lunchtime session brings so much pleasure to so many people, sponsors, partners and the public alike.
Then it was time to get back to racing.
Race #1 of the weekend.
Well …… they all seemed to get away well (although I did think that Randle may have just moved at the start) – (no problem apparently) and they all got around turn one, then turn two, even turn three and four, and then it all went a bit pear shaped.
At least for Habsburg, Enders and Cockerton.
All of whom ended up in the scoria with various bits bent or completely missing in action.
The stories of the incident vary, as they do and as you might expect, but the upshot of it all is a first lap nose to tail, he said she (he) said, he braked, I was hit, he pulled over etc.
Commonly called a ‘racing incident’.
Red flag after a lap behind the safety car.
Three cars sideways on the wrecker truck, back in pit lane and off we go again.
Armstrong led the restart and did it well but Leitch was close behind all the way until just two laps from the end Armstrong put a wheel in the dirt at the exit of turn #9 and Leitch pounced.
Getting past Armstrong going into the big sweeper at the end of the track and from then on was not headed.
A shame for Marcus but you gotta keep it on the black stuff!
Randle was harrying Daruvala desperately seeking to displace him from third but never quite managed it.
Daruvala was actually shown a bad sportsmanship flag for blocking going into turn #1 so we will see if that affects the outcome of the race. (It didn’t!).
A lot going on behind these front four with Verschoor, the championship leader, mired in eighth place, a long way behind birthday boy Enaam Ahmed and a long way in front of Luis Leeds in ninth.
Piquet in fifth was similarly stranded between cars but Kami Laliberte was yo-yoing faster and slower and finished in sixth.
Which wasn’t so bad as it turned out.
So, with that lot in front then came, in Andres in tenth, then Neubauer, Vaidyanathan, Hayek, Blackstock, Hahn, Lastochkin, Simmenauer, Habsburg (DNF), Cockerton (DNF) and Enders (DNF).
The damage to the three non finishers was confined to the usual nose, wings (rear and front) suspension (rear and front) floors etc.
All repairable all shall be done.
Points at the top end of the championship have now closed up a bit ……..