The international drivers topped the timesheets on Friday practice in the Toyota Racing Series opener at Ruapuna Raceway but it was local star Marcus Armstrong that impressed most.
Wet weather has dominated the past couple of days in Christchurch but the final practice session saw a drying track challenge the 13 entrants. Armstrong had posted fastest times through the three practice sessions on Friday before the last couple of laps saw the fastest times of the day recorded.
It meant drivers that hadn't previously been at the pointy end of the field ended up on top but Armstrong was the pick of the drivers ahead of Ferrari compatriot Robert Shwartzman and Frenchman Clement Novalak.
Returning Kiwi drivers Brendon Leitch and Taylor Cockerton feature around the top six most of the day while rookies Ryan Yardley and Reid Harker were a little slower.
First time drivers could end up relying more than usual on their engineers and mechanics when qualifying and the first race is held on Saturday morning.
The nine series debutants have spent the last three days practicing in wet conditions, but the weekend weather forecast is for fine weather.
"It will be difficult," admitted Russian Shwartzman who was one of the fastest drivers in the wet. "I don't know what my braking points will be in the dry, or how fast I can go."
The 18-year-old from St Petersburg admitted he will need his race engineer and mechanics to set the car up differently for the dry conditions that are expected.
"But I will try my hardest. I've been fast in the wet so I hope to be competitive in the dry."
Friday's final practice session started in the wet and finished with a rapidly drying track, in which the fastest times were set in the last minute.
The youngest driver in the field, 16-year-old Charles Milesi, was fastest with an 86.280 lap, followed by American Cameron Das and Guyana's Calvin Ming.
By that time local favourite Armstrong had already stopped after setting the fastest time when the track was wet.
"The car feels good and fast," said Armstrong, who is one of only four drivers who have experience from last year when the meeting was held in dry weather.
"As long as qualifying is not like this afternoon when the last person to get a time in just before the end of the session is fastest."
Shwartzman was fourth fastest in the constantly improving conditions, while the quickest Kiwi was Cockerton from Pukekohe in seventh and Armstrong was only ninth with his time from the much wetter conditions, just behind Invercargill's Leitch.
Armstrong, Leitch and Cockerton and Dutch teenager Richard Verschoor will be able to revert to the dry weather settings on their cars from last summer, while the rest of the field will have to rely on the experience and expertise of their engineer and mechanics to adjust suspension and wings for the dry conditions.
Fastest practice times
1, Charles Milesi (France) 86.280 seconds;
2, Cameron Das (United States) 86.492;
3, Calvin Ming (Guyana) 86.594;
4, Robert Shwartzman (Russia) 86.659;
5, James Pull (England) 86.661;
6, Juan Manuel Correa (Ecuador) 86.773;
7, Taylor Cockerton (Pukekohe) 86.892;
8, Brendon Leitch (Invercargill) 86.981;
9, Marcus Armstrong (Christchurch) 87.197;
10, Clement Novalak (France) 87.256.