Cameron Hill is confident for a strong result as racing kicks off today for the New Zealand Toyota 86 Racing Series at Pukekohe.
The Canberra based driver has shown dominance so far this season in the Australian Toyota 86 Series, but travelled to New Zealand this weekend to compete as a one off in the local series, which supports the ITM Auckland SuperSprint.
Hill completed Qualifying yesterday, finishing sixth fastest in the first session, which sets the grid for Race 1, and fourth fastest in Qualifying 2, which sets the grid for the third race.
The young racer said the day had been a very steep learning curve for the entire team at Pukekohe, after trying to adapt to a car which is vastly different under the skin compared to the his Australian 86.
“The times are extremely close, and most of the other drivers have had a lot of experience at Pukekohe – I’m definitely aiming for a podium in the races,” said Hill
“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.
“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.”
Hill overcame varying track conditions and an off track moment to set his lap in Qualifying 2, which put him fourth at the chequered flag.
Rain started to fall as the session got underway, with Hill banking in a quick lap early on before slipping off the road and making slight contact with the barrier.
“We made a couple more changes to the car in the second session, and then it started raining,” explained Hill.
“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 now shifts into race mode, with three 12 lap hit outs set for the remainder of the weekend.
Race 1 is scheduled for today at 10:45am NZDT before Race 2 later in the afternoon and Race 3 on Sunday.