Saturday, Jan 12 11:18am
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Marcus Armstrong snatches opening pole position

Marcus Armstrong grabbed a last gasp lap to sneer pole position for race one of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series at Highlands Motorsport Park.


Before the session properly got going, Thomas Smith brought out the red flag after an unusual incident saw him spin at bridge. With his car parked precariously on the tabletop the session was stopped as the young Australian righted himself and got going.


The session restarted with a little under 10 minutes to go. Cameron Das was the fastest driver initially, but he’d only set one fast flying lap.


American driver Dev Gore threatened to bring out the red flag again after he went off at the fast left hander after the bridge.


Lawson was the first one to show some true pace as he went to the top of the timesheets. Fellow countryman Armstrong followed suit with a time just two tenths adrift of Lawson.


The two Kiwi drivers were dropped down the order by Das, though only 0.010 ahead of Lawson.


The times continued to tumble as Asian Formula 3 Championship title winner Raoul Hyman went to the top. The pair traded places as Lawson fought back and went up to the top again.


With four minutes to go just six hundredths between the top four drivers.


Armstrong split the top two and was obviously pushing as he slid wide and dropped a wheel off out of the hairpin.


Lawson then shot ahead and established an advantage of two tenths.


Surprise performer was Esteban Muth who launched to second. It was an M2 top five with Lawson ahead of Muth, Auer, Armstrong and Das. However, it didn’t stay that way for long as Hyman broke the M2 stranglehold.


There was drama late in the session as Victory Motor Racing driver Parker Locke ended up in the wall at the hairpin.


Moments later, Armstrong set the fastest lap of the session. A 1:48.533 secured pole position ahead of Hyman as the red flag came out. Lawson, Das and Muth completed the top five. Meanwhile, Auer, Leitch, Ptacek, Kazuto Kotaka and Calan Williams rounded out the top 10. 


Castrol Toyota Racing Series Qualifying

Pos Driver Time/Gap
1 Marcus Armstrong 1:28.252
2 Raoul Hyman +0.237
3 Liam Lawson +0.304
4 Cameron Das +0.425
5 Esteban Muth +0.518
6 Lucas Auer +0.614
7 Brendon Leitch +0.758
8 Petr Ptacek +0.771
9 Kazuto Kotaka +0.916
10 Calan Williams +1.470
11 Artem Petrov +1.643
12 Petru Florescu +1.867
13 Dev Gore +2.299
14 Thomas Smith +2.523
15 Parker Locke +2.537