Young Czech racing star Petr Ptáček experienced a challenging weekend at Round Two of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series at Teretonga Park, one that did not reflect his true pace.
Petr finished two of the three races in the points, but his early lap times around the 2.57km circuit on New Zealand’s South Island earlier suggested much more was possible, were it not for bad luck.
The 17-year-old settled in well, posting competitive times in each of the three practice sessions, including a stellar P3 in Practice One, but qualifying for Race One brought frustration for the MindMaze-backed driver.
“Quali 1 was cut short due to a long red flag period and every driver had just three minutes to set a representative lap time,” Petr explained. “It’s such a short, tight circuit and I was unable to find clear space on the track to do a ‘push’ lap.
”Consequently, Petr was unable to capitalise on the positive groundwork laid down and he lined up P16 for Saturday’s Race One in his mtec Motorsport/R-ace GP machine.
Determined to make progress, he set the second-fastest lap as he embarked on a charge up the order. Among the highlights was a brave overtake on Jose Blanco around the outside of Turn One to go to seize P9, which is where Petr finished.
With the finishing positions of Race One establishing the starting spots for Race Two, Petr lined up on the inside of the fifth row of the grid but was unable to make progress and was eventually classified P14.
Petr said: “Finishing P9 in Race One from a start position near the back of the grid was a pretty decent result from both my side and the team’s side,and the race pace was good. Race Two however was a different story and prompted us to make changes before the final race.
“In Quali 2 we tried a strategy which in retrospect was a bit too risky, especially when this session was also disrupted by a red flag. When the session resumed, I felt immediately there was something wrong with the engine, similar to the problem I experienced in Round One where it didn’t pull cleanly out of corners and I was losing speed on the straights. Again, we had to change some things on the engine.”
Petr, who is supported by Parmigiani Fleurier, qualified and finished P10 for Sunday afternoon’s 25-lap headline race.
“Overall it was quite a frustrating weekend for me and the team because after some good early pace I feel we deserved more. But sometimes thesethings are out of your hands. We have to keep our heads down, work hard and move forward as a team. Next up is the round at Hampton and I’ll push like hell to get the results we deserve there.”
Round three of the Toyota Racing Series takes place at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Waikato, next weekend (31 January – 2 February).