Hedge has the edge after qualifying at Taupo
Championship contender Callum Hedge grabbed a sensational pole position for Race 1 at Taupo Motorsport Park today, getting his final weekend in the battle for the Castrol Toyota 2023 Formula Regional Oceania Championship off to the perfect start.
In a straight shoot-out between top Giles Motorsport driver Louis Foster and Hedge, Championship leader Charlie Wurz, NZ Grand Prix winner Laurens van Hoepen and young gun Liam Sceats, Hedge pieced together his strategy to take pole position by just over two one hundredths of a second from Foster. Van Hoepen took third, with Sceats fourth and Wurz leaving himself plenty to do with fifth on the grid for the afternoon’s race.
On a track with high tyre degradation, teams and drivers opted in most cases for a sequence of two fast laps and one cool down lap during the 15 minute session and as the clock ticked down it came down to the fight between Hedge and Foster.
The pair traded fastest times before Hedge put his best in on lap nine. About the same time, Foster hit traffic on his flyer. He still managed to go faster next time around, but it wasn’t enough to beat Hedge’s best.
“The objective was to take pole position and we did that, so we’re off to a great start,” said Hedge after the critical session.
“The tyre goes off quickly here. I did two pushes in a row, then a cool down lap. I did another fast one and it wasn’t a perfect lap. I wanted to do a cool, but I knew if I did that I would run out of time so I did another one and that’s the one I did the time on.”
Behind the top five, Kaleb Ngatoa popped his best lap in relatively early on his sixth lap and was unable to improve thereafter while David Morales completed a very impressive session with seventh best time.
Jacob Abel went for two quick laps before alternating between one fast and one slow lap, but the slightly different strategy ultimately left him just under three tenths off Morales and eight tenths off pole position. He too will have plenty to do in the first race to keep his championship hopes alive.
Josh Mason lines up in ninth spot, with Chloe Chambers there again in the top ten on the outside of the fifth row of the grid for Race 1.