Wurz holds off Foster for CTFROC Manfeild pole position
Championship leader Charlie Wurz left his best until last in a very wet qualifying session at the third round of the 2023 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship at Manfeild – Circuit Chris Amon on Saturday morning.
The fifteen minute session was interrupted half way through after Josh Mason went into the tyre barriers and ended his qualifying effort early. But it saw fastest times traded at the top by multiple drivers as the tyres warmed up and at least a little of the water was displaced around the cambered 3.3km track.
Louis Foster, Callum Hedge and Liam Sceats all topped the timesheets at some stage but it was Wurz’s final effort that proved to be the best.
“I was a bit nervous at the end as the cars were still coming and I was waiting for my engineer to tell me where we were,” said M2 Competition’s Austrian racer afterwards.
“My last lap, I didn’t really put it together but somehow I think the track was improving a bit. But I have to say that the car was really spot on today and was a real pleasure to drive. We were really fast throughout the session and I still have more time to find so everything looking forward to the race is just positive.”
Giles Motorsport’s British ace Foster – who arrived yesterday and gave the championship a wake-up call with an electrifying performance – couldn’t quite match Wurz for outright pace but enjoyed the wet session immensely and took the other spot on the front row of the grid.
“I haven’t done a wet qualifying session in years so it was good fun out there,” the reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion explained.
“I enjoy the rain and I wish it rained more in America, so it’s quite refreshing for me to be driving in the rain again but I’m three tenths down so we’ll have to have a look and see where we lost a bit of time. I haven’t done a standing start in a while either so hopefully I won’t stall it!”
Ryder Quinn was super impressive in the session as well, the Australian consistently in the front running group before banging in his best time on his last lap to leapfrog Kiwi Motorsport Jacob Abel for third. Quinn had worked hard on improving his pace around the track throughout the two days of testing and could be well pleased with his best as one of the least experienced drivers on the grid. Abel was another to be consistently fast throughout the session and pipped Liam Sceats – top Kiwi this time – for the outside slot on the second row.
Immediately behind Sceats and sharing the third row in this afternoon’s race will be Wurz’s main challenger in the points table, Callum Hedge.
He finished the session just a few hundredths of a second ahead of David Morales with James Penrose and another series newcomer, Ireland’s Adam Fitzgerald, rounding out the top ten. Billy Frazer – the third new addition to the champion ship this weekend and a winner here in 2021 – was fast early on but slipped back to 12th at the end.
A wet race in the afternoon is almost guaranteed with rain likely to be a factor in the day’s 22 lap race.