Experienced Toyota 86 racer Brock Gilchrist got his 2023 campaign off to a fast start with a sensational pole position lap at Highlands Motorsport Park this morning.
The Matakana driver set two laps that were good enough for pole position, but his best, a stunning 1 minute 53.576 after eight minutes of the 20 minute session left the rest of the field behind.
Big gaps in time in any track session are rare in Toyota 86 but Gilchrist’s best gave him a margin of three tenths of a second to the next fastest driver, Clay Osborne, and that’s a long way in this category. The 18 year old was pretty pleased with his session and particularly his best effort, especially as he was very limited by a lack of information in the car.
“We really only wanted to try and find clean air and get some fast laps in and we managed to do that at the start and later in the session,” he said afterwards.
“I couldn’t see lap times as the dashboard was down but I felt both of the laps were good and I was confident with what I was doing with the car. It’s a great way to start.”
Behind Brock, three more tenths of a second covered the next six drivers, many of whom left their best laps to late in the session. Osborne’s best kept him in P2 and a front row starting position for the first race while Tom Bewley continued his impressive start to Toyota 86 racing with a solid lap good enough for third place on the grid and top rookie.
Friday pacesetter Justin Allen was strong again and locked in a second row start in fourth while top master racer John Penny put in his best lap of the weekend so far to take fifth place on the grid.
William Exton was next up with another impressive rookie performance while Fynn Osborne enjoyed his best Toyota qualifying session ever to line up seventh. Another impressive performance came from Tayler Bryant, eighth on his return to the championship full time and one of his best performances in the category.
Rounding out the top ten were Dion Pitt and Christina Orr-West.
Image: Brock Gilchrist takes a commanding pole position. Credit: Bruce Jenkins
2023 Toyota 86 Championship – Round 1 – Highlands Motorsport Park – Qualifying