Fast learning the key for Hill at Pukekohe

He might have been driving an unfamiliar car on a circuit where he had never raced before, but Cameron Hill’s talent shone through in qualifying for Round 1 of the New Zealand Toyota 86 Racing Championship today, the Canberra driver recording a pair of top-six qualifying performances at Pukekohe.

After setting the sixth-fastest time in the first session, Hill capitalised on some wet weather to qualify fourth in the second session.

The most successful driver in the Australian version of the Toyota 86 Series said the day had been a very steep learning curve for the entire team.

“While it looks like exactly the same sort of car from the outside, the variations in suspension, tyres and brakes are enough to make the driving experience a world apart from my own 86,” Hill said.

“Not only that, the setup philosophy is also very different so the team did a great job to adapt the car setup to something I’m used to.

“After practice, we made a lot of changes to the car and in qualifying I was a lot happier; I might have been sixth in the first session but the times were very close and I was only 0.3s off pole.

“We made a couple more changes to the car in the second session, and then it started raining. I was able to set the fourth-fastest time but then the conditions became worse, I slipped on one of the kerbs heading onto the back straight, and spun into the wall.

“Fortunately it was a very low-speed impact and the damage was only cosmetic.”

Hill is expecting the racing to be very competitive tomorrow and Sunday.

“The times are extremely close, and most of the other drivers have had a lot of experience at Pukekohe – hopefully I can make up some places, I’m definitely aiming for the podium.”

Two races will be held tomorrow, at 10:45am and 3:00pm (New Zealand time). Grid positions for Race 1 will be determined by today’s first qualifying session and Race 2 will feature a randomly-reversed grid from the finishing positions in Race 1.

Both races will be shown live in Australia on Fox Sports 506.