British racer Raoul Hyman has taken a closely fought – and controversial pole position – for the first race in the 2019 Castrol Toyota Racing Series.
Marcus Armstrong emerged from a fiercely contested first qualifying session of the championship as the fastest driver, but was given a three place grid penalty for clocking his fastest lap under yellow caution flags, leaving him fourth in the starting order. Cameron Das was another to fall foul of the yellows and dropped to seventh on the grid.
That left second fastest driver Hyman to inherit pole position. The current Asian Formula 3 champion had been quick for much of the session and reckoned the late red flag when American Parker Locke went off cost him his fastest time. "There was a bit more in the car to be honest, the red flag came at the wrong time for me," he said afterwards.
Five drivers seemed in contention with just a couple of minutes to go - Armstrong, Hyman, New Zealander Liam Lawson, American Cameron Das and Belgian Esteban Muth but it was Ferrari Academy driver Armstrong who saved his best to last. His best lap came late in the session but it was a superb one when it came, pushing Hyman down to second by just over two tenths of a second.
It was just as competitive through the rest of the fifteen car field, with a further three tenths covering Austrian Lucas Auer, Kiwi and circuit specialist Brendon Leitch, Petr Ptacek of the Czech Republic and Japanese Toyota scholarship racer Kazuto Kotaka in ninth. There was then a further four tenths of a second before the best of the Australians in tenth, Calan Williams.
Russian Artem Petrov lines up 11th for the first race, after an overnight rebuild on his car by M2 Competition following a heavy shunt in Friday practice. Romanian Petru Florescu showed good pace in the early part of qualifying but fell away to 12th on the grid. The USA's Dev Gore and Parker Locke and Aussie Thomas Smith round out the field.
The 15 lap race - the first in the fifteen race championship - is scheduled to get underway at 1.55pm.
Race 1 Qualifying – Highlands Motorsport Park Round 1
- Raoul Hyman (United Kingdom)
- Liam Lawson (New Zealand)
- Esteban Muth (Belgium)
- Marcus Armstrong (New Zealand) (includes grid penalty)
- Lucas Auer (Austria)
- Brendon Leitch (New Zealand)
- Cameron Das (USA) (includes grid penalty)
- Petr Ptacek (Czech Republic)
- Kazuto Kotaka (Japan)
- Calan Williams (Australia)
- Artem Petrov (Russia)
- Petru Florescu (Romania)
- Dev Gore (USA)
- Parker Locke (USA) (includes grid penalty)
- Thomas Smith (Australia) (includes grid penalty)