Austrian Lucas Auer produced a scintillating last lap in second qualifying to grab pole position for the Sunday feature race at the first round of the 2019 Castrol Toyota Racing Series at Cromwell on Sunday morning.
In one of the most competitive qualifying sessions in the category's fifteen year history - Liam Lawson, Raoul Hyman, Marcus Armstrong and Cameron Das all held provisional pole for the weekend feature race at some stage during the fifteen minute session and times tumbled throughout the entire session. Less than a second covered the first 12 of the 15 runners.
It was all decided in the final minute, however, with first Auer clocking the best time and getting over the finish line with a second to spare, which allowed him another shot. Before he crossed the line for the final time, Marcus Armstrong had gone a tenth quicker, but then Auer's final lap sealed it with a 1 minute 28.1 - just six hundredths of a second ahead of Armstrong, who in turn was just over two tenths ahead of Saturday race winner Liam Lawson in third.
Auer, the most experienced racer in the strong international field competing in New Zealand, has testing experience of contemporary Formula One machinery and is moving to the Japanese Super Formula category in 2019 after four seasons in the high profile German DTM series as a works Mercedes driver. Nephew of Grand Prix great Gerhard Berger, he was pleased to hit form so early in his return to single seaters and get the timing of his best lap spot on
"It's a good result, but it is normal to seize the right moment at the end of the session," he explained. "The track gets so much better at the end and everyone waits for the last two laps. I am now looking forward to making the most of the position in this afternoon's race."
Fourth on the grid for the main race on Sunday afternoon will be Czech Petr Ptacek, with Russian Artem Petrov in fifth. Hyman starts sixth, with Das seventh, Brendon Leitch eighth, Australia's Calan Williams ninth and Belgium's Esteban Muth rounding out the top ten.
Qualifying 2 Result – Highlands Motorsport Park Round 1
1. Lucas Auer (Austria)
2. Marcus Armstrong (New Zealand)
3. Liam Lawson (New Zealand)
4. Petr Ptacek (Czech Republic)
5. Artem Petrov (Russia)
6. Raoul Hyman (United Kingdom)
7. Cameron Das (USA)
8. Brendon Leitch (New Zealand)
9. Calan Williams (Australia)
10. Esteban Muth (Belgium)
11. Kazuto Kotaka (Japan)
12. Petru Florescu (Romania)
13. Thomas Smith (Australia)
14. Dev Gore (USA)
15. Parker Locke (USA)