Simon Evans has set the fastest time in the final practice for the BNT V8 SuperTourer Sprint Series at a rain-hit Pukekohe.
The Holden driver recorded a best of 1:13.48s in the single 30 minute session to emerge 0.38s faster than Australian Steve Owen, who returns to the championship this weekend in an AV8 Commodore.
Pilot of the iSport Racing Ford Dominic Storey followed with the third quickest time in treacherous conditions that saw the session twice interrupted by red flags.
Evans’ fast performance leading into the final races of the Sprint Series has ignited his fierce competition with Greg Murphy, who is 162 points ahead of Evans in the championship.
Owen’s late call-up to steer Wayne Anderson’s Holden in its first race of the season proved beneficial, with the accomplished driver making the most of the wet weather conditions.
“It was my first time in the rain in these cars and it takes a little bit of getting used to,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“I think it was a good session to get a handle of things and get a good feel of the wet.
“This is such a cool wet weather tyre that we run on because it makes bad conditions like that be quite quick.”
The Ford Performance Racing enduro driver said he has his sights set on returning to the series to compete in the endurance rounds of the championship.
“It was a last minute deal that came together,” he said.
“We’ll get through this weekend and see how it all pans out.
“I’ll be back for the enduros in one form or another, so it would be nice to get some more races in these cars because I enjoy them.”
The NZV8 Touring Cars’ practice session saw Jason Bargwanna top the time sheets as he closes in on a second straight title.
Bargwanna’s title rival Nick Ross elected not to cut laps in the second session due to the severity of the conditions.
Australian Kris Walton recorded the quickest time in practice for the NZV8 Utes Series, which is also on the V8 Supercars support card.
Dean Perkins will begin Race 1 for the AutoSure Central Muscle Cars on pole, while Crawford-Porsche driver Glen Smith scored the top spot ahead of tomorrow’s GTRNZ opener.
See below for Speedcafe.com’s ITM 500 Auckland Form Guide