Callum Hedge has started his hunt for the Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship crown in incredible fashion, taking pole position in this morning’s qualifying session.
The Kiwi contender displayed pace which matched pre-race favourites Louis Foster and Laurens van Hoepen, clinging to a narrow .02 of a second lead over Foster to put himself in top spot for this afternoon’s race.
The 2023 New Zealand Grand Prix winner will be forced to start third with Liam Sceats taking fourth spot with his final flyer.
Hedge will be thanking compatriot Sceats who relegated championship leader Charlie Wurz to fifth on the grid, some distance behind his Kiwi rival who sits only 10 points behind.
Wurz will have his hands full with the ever-quick Ngatoa starting alongside, the Kiwi sure to pressure the Austrian throughout early proceedings come race time.
Jacob Abel, who also remains in contention, could only manage eighth fastest, eclipsed by fellow American David Morales who will start seventh.
Breanna Morris was consistent and clean through her run and will start 16th with only James Penrose behind, the two race winner forced to sit in the lane with gear selection issues and not set a time.
It took five minutes for the lap times to begin flying in, Foster and van Hoepen going one and two. Wurz responded to put himself between the pair before Hedge put in a flyer to go to the top.
That was short-lived, Foster retaking the throne with nine minutes gone in the 15 minute session.
Van Hoepen, the New Zealand Grand Prix winner, out-braked himself heading into the hairpin, forced to take the scenic route through the gravel before rejoining.
Chloe Chambers was another in the wars, a spin at the same place ruining one of her fast laps.
With four minutes remaining there was calm before the storm, drivers preparing for a final couple of laps to improve on their times.
Hedge was the first to move up, reclaiming top spot over Foster with van Hoepen recovering from his off road venture to move into third ahead of Wurz.
Sceats and Ngatoa had also gone about solid business to be sitting fifth and sixth respectively, the pair poised nicely to pounce in the dying stages.
Foster improved on his time in his final run but it wasn’t enough to get the better of Hedge, the Kiwi clinging to pole by a tight .021 of a second.
Sceats did Hedge a massive favour in the championship battle on his final lap, bettering Wurz to take fourth and relegating the Austrian championship leader to the third row.
A breathtaking final minute saw Hedge hold on for pole position with the quick Englishman Foster to start alongside.
Van Hoepen will start third with the impressive Sceats alongside. Wurz and Ngatoa round out the front three rows.
Penrose was unlucky to not make it out to the track, another hard weekend ahead for the Kiwi as he starts from the back of the grid, behind Breanna Morris who starts 16th.
Today’s sole race begins at 4.47pm.
|3rd||Laurens van Hoepen|
Header Image: Bruce Jenkins