Lawson shines again in the wet
Home drivers continued to shine in wet qualifying conditions at the second round of the 2019 Castrol Toyota Racing Series at Teretonga Park in Invercargill today, with series leader Liam Lawson securing pole position from countryman and series rival Marcus Armstrong by a scant one tenth of a second.
First to show in the 15 minute session – which defines the grid for Saturday’s Race 1 – was Romanian Petru Florescu whose early laps put him out front ahead of Lawson. Japanese TOM’S driver Kazuto Kotaka then went to the top of the timesheets, before Lawson bagged what was to be his best lap of the session.
The track continued to dry throughout but try as they might – cruising for a lap to protect the tyres then attacking to try and make the most of the improving grip – no drivers could better Lawson’s time. Armstrong got closest with his best effort within a tenth, with Austrian Lucas Auer pushing his car hard to take third. Kotaka impressed throughout the session and was constantly in the quickest group, ultimately securing fourth on the grid. Lawson was surprised but pleased with how the session panned out.
“For all of us that was pretty much for the first time on a wet track and even then it still wasn’t properly wet,” he explained. “I went off twice trying to find the limits and that’s when I got the quickest time. We all expected the track to get quicker. I backed off to cool down to then try and push again and it’s a little bit strange but none of us could go faster. Our pace is OK in the dry and the wet so we’ll see what happens later.”
Belgian Esteban Muth lines up fifth for this afternoon’s race, with Australian Calan Williams completing the third row for Australia. The third Kiwi, local racer Brendon Leitch, was there or thereabouts too and will start seventh. Russian Artem Petrov lines up alongside him on row four, with American Cameron Das and Florescu completing a top ten covered by one second in the challenging conditions.
The big surprise of the session was United Kingdom racer Raoul Hyman – who sits third in the points table – who could only manage 11th on the grid. He will start alongside the ever-improving Parker Locke, 12th for Victory Racing and the United States.
Czech racer Petr Ptacek and Aussie Jackson Walls – making his debut in the series this weekend – occupy the seventh row, with Australia Thomas Smith and the USA’s Dev Gore completing the line- up for the 15 lap race.
2019 Castrol Toyota Racing Series – Round 2 Teretonga Qualifying
1. Liam Lawson (New Zealand)
2. Marcus Armstrong (New Zealand)
3. Lucas Auer (Austria)
4. Kazuto Kotaka (Japan)
5. Esteban Muth (Belgium)
6. Calan Williams (Australia)
7. Brendon Leitch (New Zealand)
8. Artem Petrov (Russia)
9. Cameron Das (USA)
10. Petru Florescu (Romania)
11. Raoul Hyman (United Kingdom)
12. Parker Locke (USA)
13. Petr Ptacek (Czech Republic)
14. Jackson Walls (Australia)
15. Thomas Smith (Australia)
16. Dev Gore (United States)
Caption: It was Liam Lawson again in qualifying for Race 1 at Teretonga Park, Invercargill on Saturday morning in New Zealand. Picture Bruce Jenkins.