Spins and wildcards underline unpredictable New Zealand Grand Prix day one
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Despite going off-track in spectacular fashion, the youngest driver in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series set the quickest time in practice for this weekend's New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon.
16-year-old Tijmen van der Helm clocked a 1:03.182 in the day's opening test in the cooler conditions; edging Lucas Petersson, Lirim Zendeli, championship leaders Liam Lawson and Igor Fraga.
Photo / Matthew Hansen
The day was underlined by a series of off-track excursions, although thankfully none of them involved cars hitting the wall. Jackson Walls and van der Helm went off into the kitty litter at Higgins in the day's opening session, with Ido Cohen also coming to a stop in the last moments. The second session, meanwhile, featured a high-speed spin at the last corner from M2 Competition's Rui Andrade.
Van der helm was rapid across all of the day's practice sessions, finishing second in practice two before topping practice three. Having skipped the first two rounds of the season, the Netherlands driver could be a wildcard as the weekend wears on and a championship decider looms.
The other driver to top practice was Caio Collet, who led the second session over van der Helm, Zendeli, Franco Colapinto, and Fraga. Third practice, meanwhile, saw van der Helm trailed by Petr Ptacek, Gregoire Saucy, Colapinto, and Collet.
Lawson's run of unspectacular Fridays continued, with 10th, seventh, and fourth across the day's testing. But as evidenced by past weekends, that Friday's pace isn't always representative of where he'll land in Saturday's first qualifying session.
Qualifying for the weekend opener takes place tomorrow at 11.10am, with race one to follow at 3.30pm. Live coverage is available on Sky Sport 55.