On-form Bilinski to start Dan Higgins Trophy race from pole position
Championship leader and Saturday race winner Roman Bilinski continued his dominance of the 2024 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship with a mighty pole position lap for the Dan Higgins Trophy race at Manfeild- Circuit Chris Amon.
Patrick Woods-Toth was first to show but his 1.03.567 was quickly eclipsed by US rival Titus Sherlock. Australia’s Tommy Smith then went fastest before Alpine F1 junior and series sensation Nicola Lacorte moved the bar into the 1 minute 2 second bracket.
As the 15-minute session progressed it became a duel for fastest lap between Bilinski and Christian Mansell, with the on-form series leader ultimately securing pole position with a scintillating lap of 1.02.286. It was the fastest qualifying lap at the Manfeild round of the championship since Jehan Daruvala clocked a 1.02.258 back in 2017.
“Another tricky session in fact, I made a few mistakes, but I managed to get a lap together to get pole position,” explained the M2 Competition ace.
“I was a bit eager on the power on one lap and went off but thankfully a good session in the end.”
Bilinski was just under two tenths quicker than Mansell who will join him on the front row for the feature race for Giles Motorsport.
MTEC Motorsport’s Tommy Smith maintained his form from early in the session to stay on the front runners’ pace and he was ultimately rewarded with a fine third place, his best starting position in the two rounds so far.
Local boy Kaleb Ngatoa led the charge behind with fourth, pushing Lacorte down to fifth. Gerrard Xie lines up sixth with Liam Sceats an uncharacteristically low seventh and with work to do in the big race.
Woods-Toth ended up eighth and top USA driver, with countryman Jett Bowling going well for ninth – his best qualifying performance so far – and Michael Shin completing the top ten.