Defending champ crashes as Brazilians sweep chaotic Toyota Racing practice
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Brazilian drivers Igor Fraga and Caio Collet have ended Friday's Castrol Toyota Racing Series practice as the quickest drivers, after a chaotic three sessions at Teretonga Park in Invercargill.
Lap-times dipped away from the mid to high 53sec times during Thursday's testing into the 54s. Fraga — a Gran Turismo Sport world champion and Formula 4 pilot, pictured below — set the day's fastest time in the final 30-minute test; a 0:54.251. Collet was almost two tenths adrift, heading Gregoire Saucy (Switzerland), Yuki Tsunoda (Japan), and Franco Colopinto (Argentina).
Photo / Matthew Hansen
Fraga was quick across the whole day, having ranked fourth and second in practice one and practice two (both of which were topped by Collet and Colopinto respectively).
It was an action-packed day for the series, following incidents across all three practice sessions. Most of these came in the form of beached cars positioned on the outside of Teretonga's long sweeping turn one, or cars in the more shallow sand trap on the outside of turn two.
The latter was the scene for the day's two biggest incidents. The first was Swedish driver Henning Enqvist's crash in practice one; a mistake resulting in the front left corner suspension and wheel being ripped off during heavy contact with the wall at speed [pictured below]. The second was an off at the same corner for championship leader Liam Lawson.
The off was relatively minor, with the defending champ nudging the tyre embankment with his nose after skidding through the sand. But, it topped off a surprisingly rough day for the Kiwi. In sessions one and two he sat ninth and fourth, with a best time of 0:55.026 in practice two. These followed a $300 fine he incurred for being late to the morning's driver's briefing.
Fellow Kiwi Chelsea Herbert was towards the back in each practice session, but impressively improved in her times from a 0:60.403 in session one to a 0:56.209 in session three.
Photo / Matthew Hansen
Between last weekend's opening round at Highlands Motorsport Park and this weekend's Invercargill event, it's been confirmed that Belgian driver Amaury Cordeel is ruled out for the rest of the season following his Highlands practice incident with José Blanco — citing lingering concerns around concussion.
The Invercargill event doubles as round one of the Valvoline D1NZ National Drifting Championship, with qualifying to come this afternoon and competition to go down tomorrow — 'Fanga Dan' Woolhouse (Ford Mustang), Carl Thompson (Nissan Silvia S15), Jaron Olivecrona (Nissan Silvia S14 V12), and Cole Armstrong (Nissan Skyline R34) among those on the grid.
Qualifying for the opening Toyota Racing Series at 11.00am tomorrow morning, with the opening race to follow at 3.09pm. Live coverage is available on Sky Sports 55.