William Exton will start the first race of the third round of the 2023-24 Toyota 86 Championship from pole position later today.
Exton’s pole position wasn’t a surprise after the Blenheim racer set the pace on both days of testing at Ruapuna, but there were some surprises behind.
One of those will be second on the grid for race one – Justin Allen – who had two quiet days of testing before qualifying. He unleashed his two best laps early on in the 20-minute session when his tyres were at their best, and it took a mighty effort from Exton to beat him.
Third on the grid after a late effort was Tom Bewley, and an even later effort saved the session for championship leader Hunter Robb, who was down in 12th position before he put in his best lap right at the end of the session.
Jaden Ransley, the vastly experienced Toyota 86 racer back for one weekend only on his home track, was in the mix throughout and looked set for third until the dying moments. Fifth on the grid was nevertheless a solid result.
Jackson Rooney was fastest in the opening minutes of qualifying but was unable to keep his nose ahead as the times dropped and would ultimately have to settle for sixth on the grid and a place on the third row.
Cormac Murphy impressed again in his very first season of circuit racing, constantly in the top ten throughout qualifying and eventually securing a fourth-row slot in seventh place. Next to him on the grid will be Hayden Bakkerus, another series rookie.
Tayler Bryant was strong in the early part of the session but ended ninth, while the top ten was rounded out by the impressive Australian Alice Buckley.