Gerhard Berger The drivers in the 2013 Toyota Racing Series are well and truly into their work. After two rounds, Lucas Auer has bragging rights from Felix Serralles and defending champion Nick Cassidy.
Six races at Teretonga and Timaru have produced four different winners - Auer, Serralles, Pipo Derani and Alex Lynn.
Cassidy has been the most consistent of the three Kiwis - the others are Damon Leitch and Michael Scott - with three top three places and the fastest lap. In the feature race for the Timaru Herald Trophy the Aucklander set a new lap record.
Auer has two firsts and a second and has not been outside the top five in any race. The 18-year-old Austrian has matured since he was in New Zealand a year ago and no longer goes looking for tyre barriers to hit.
In the past he was fast but erratic, now he's fast and organised.
It may have something to do with his genes. His uncle and adviser is Gerhard Berger, who had 10 Formula One Grand Prix wins and twice finished third in the world championship.
At Timaru, Auer was fast out of the box finishing the weekend with a first, a fifth and a second in the feature race.
The drivers are now getting set for qualifying at the Taupo Motorsport Park circuit.
"I am confident with the team and the car," says Auer. "We did a good job [in Timaru] and I'm looking forward to the next round. For me, the Taupo circuit is probably my favourite here in New Zealand. It's very much European in its layout.
"It's quite bumpy but that's no problem. We have already shown we have good speed and I feel good as well. There are more passing places here than at the first two tracks we have raced on and I think we will see some very good races."
Auer had one of his better rounds at Taupo in 2012 with seventh, sixth and fifth. That consistency makes him a leading contender for the championship.
"My driving style is still much the same but I learned a lot here last year. I also learned a lot in Europe and I grew up a lot. I can race on the limit without making the mistakes I did last year. It's a lot easier to handle everything this year."
Taupo's three races will be a good indicator as to who will be in focus for the championship.
"Right now my biggest threats are Serralles and Cassidy. I think those two will be strong at the end," says Auer.
Four other drivers will be lurking. Leitch has improved in each race and looks threatening, along with Steijn Schothorst, Derani and Lynn.
TRS Championship points after round two
1 Lucas Auer, Austria 382
2 Felix Serralles, Puerto Rico 376
3 Nick Cassidy, New Zealand 329
4 Pipo Derani, Brazil 289
5 Damon Leitch, New Zealand, Alex Lynn, UK 282
7 Stejin Schothorst, Netherlands 270
8 Bruno Bonifacio, Brazil 259
Round 3 24-27 January Taupo Motorsport Park Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy
Round 4 31 January-3 February Hampton Downs, Waikato New Zealand Motor Cup
Round 5 7-10 February Manfeild New Zealand Grand Prix, Dan Higgins Trophy and Dorothy Smith Memorial Cup