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Patient Mansell hits sweet spot for first pole position of the season

A busy first qualifying session of the 2024 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship saw Australian Christian Mansell secure the first pole position of the season.

The 17 drivers had 15 minutes to get to grips with challenging conditions at the South Waikato circuit. Early morning rain meant the 3.5km circuit was drying but still slippery in places and it meant lap times were a little off Friday’s fast practice pace.

It also meant some drivers started the session on full wet tyres and some on slicks. Mansell started the session and remained on slicks throughout and as the session progressed he got quicker and quicker.

After a red flag stoppage caused when Patrick Woods Toth slithered off, Mansell was quick to make the most of the enhanced grip in his Giles Motorsport car, trading fastest lap times with Poland’s Roman Bilinski before taking the pole position with a lap of 1 minute 26.763, seven tenths quicker than the fastest M2 Competition driver.

“We were able to maintain the pace we showed in yesterday’s testing and the team has done an exceptional job in giving me a great car from the word go,” he said afterwards.

“The choice of tyre for qualifying was definitely a tricky one and I wasn’t too sure at first but then it started to dry out and that gave me confidence then all of a sudden they switched on and the pace was there.

“We’ll see how they go in the race but I’m looking forward to it.”

Behind Mansell and Bilinski, Gerrard Xie was third fastest with team mate and top Kiwi in the session Liam Sceats in fourth. Kaleb Ngatoa was fifth fastest, with Korea’s Michael Shin next up.

Alex Crosbie made it three in the top ten for Giles Motorsport, while mtec Motorsport’s Lucas Fecury, Kaden Probst and Tommy Smith rounded out the top ten.

Kiwi Motorsport’s Jett Bowling ran well and only just missed out on breaking into the top ten on his Formula Regional debut.

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