Championship contender Clay Osborne was untouchable in qualifying at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon – putting in a blistering performance to leave his rivals in his tyre tracks.
Osborne put in two laps that were good enough for pole position at the penultimate round of the 2023 Toyota 86 Championship and was the only driver to dip below the magical 1 minute 20-second mark around the 3km Manawatu circuit, beating Dion Pitt by just under three-tenths of a second.
For the majority of the session, it looked like the Osborne brothers would write a bit of motorsport history by locking out the front row but Clay’s older brother Fynn ultimately had to settle for the third spot and will start directly behind his brother in the afternoon’s first race.
“We put new tyres on and the car was really strong,” said Clay afterwards.
“We didn’t change the set-up from Friday testing at all but I did try a slightly different line around the final corner and it worked out well. Fynn and the team have been working really hard too so it’s great for us all to see that effort rewarded with strong speed.”
Runaway championship leader Brock Gilchrist, who lost time due to mechanical woes in Friday’s testing, couldn’t match the pace of the leaders and had to settle for 11th on the grid, his worst starting position of the season to date.
In a fascinating session, Tayler Bryant was impressive throughout and was rewarded with fourth and the final spot on the second row while Ayrton Hodson impressed again with the fifth fastest time and the honours of being the top rookie in the session.
He and Bryant actually recorded identical fastest times, but Bryant will start ahead because he recorded the time earlier in the session than Hodson.
Australian Rylan Gray also impressed on his first visit to the circuit to take sixth, with Christina Orr-West in seventh to be the fastest Masters runner. Tom Bewley will line up eighth with Friday pace setter John Penny in ninth and home favourite Justin Allen completing the top ten.
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