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Walls stuns Castrol TRS field with Teretonga pole position

Australian racer Jackson Walls turned the form book on its head in the second qualifying session at Teretonga to claim a sensational pole position for the feature race at the second round of the Castrol Toyota Racing series at Teretonga Park.

The 17 year old – driving for in-form team mtec Motorsport – showed his hand late in the session to take his best starting position in the New Zealand championship series, and his first pole position. It was a complete turnaround from a disappointing Saturday which saw him retire from the weekend’s first race.

He was elated after the session, in which the top six drivers were covered by just one and half tenths of a second. “I’m astounded,” he said. “I can’t thank my team enough, my parents, everyone just to get me here. I didn’t think it would happen this early.

“There wasn’t any approach to the strategy, other than just getting out there and doing laps so in that regard I treated it like a practice session.”

The 15 minute session proved to be an absolute thriller as half a dozen drivers traded fastest times on the challenging, but fast 2.57km Invercargill circuit.

Kiwi Motorsport’s Franco Colapinto was the first into the fast groove, overcoming some slippery conditions on the track to be the first under the benchmark 55 second mark. His time was soon bettered by Saturday winner Caio Collet, who went under the 54 second mark only to see Lawson better his last the next time round. At the halfway mark Yuki Tsunoda popped up towards the top of the timesheets in third as he too dipped under the 54 second lap mark. Next time around he went even quicker to eclipse Collet’s mark. He then went quickest on his ninth lap, hitting the 53.7 mark to go quickest.

Lawson responded and went quicker, but a trip into the gravel for Emilien Denner at Turn 2 – when he was avoiding Petr Ptacek’ s car – brought out the red just before he and Tsunoda completed their laps and the order remained Tsunoda first and Lawson second.

With just under five minutes to go before the session restarted it was a 1-2 for the Red Bull Juniors with Yuki Tsunoda heading Liam Lawson. Collet was a solid third just a couple of tenths down who was in turn only a few hundredths of a second up on Igor Fraga.

Lawson’s first flying lap after the restart was good enough to pip Tsunoda’ s best as Jackson Walls also went quick to pop up into fourth place. Tsunoda then briefly went quicker before Jackson Walls went fastest. It was all on in the dying seconds as Igor Fraga looked to have sealed it in the dying seconds before Walls put in the best lap of the weekend to take pole position for the Spirit of the Nation Trophy feature race.

Lawson had one more effort in his pocket but came up short by just under four hundredths of a second to join the Australian young gun on the front row.

Fraga’s time was good enough for third on the grid, while Lucas Petersson put in his best qualifying performance of the championship so far with a late effort to seal the final spot on the second row. Tsunoda wound up fifth on the grid in his Red Bull liveried M2 Competition car alongside Oliver Rasmussen in his mtec car. Saturday winner Collet was a disappointed seventh with Kiwi Motorsport’s Franco Colapinto lining up eighth. The top ten for the Sunday afternoon feature race will be completed by Grégoire Saucy of Switzerland and Puerto Rican Jose Blanco.

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