Auer on pole for Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy race
Lucas Auer has maintained the form he showed in winning Saturday’s second race at Taupo by claiming pole position for the big feature race of the fourth weekend of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series – the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy.
The four TRS teams sent their cars out earlier than in previous qualifying sessions, with around 11 minutes of the 15 minute session remaining. The top runners from the weekend, including all of the M2 Competition drivers, all went out on new tyres.
It was Belgium's Esteban Muth who set the early pace before the times started to tumble and the order changed with each lap. Saturday afternoon winner Lucas Auer was straight into the 1 minute 23s with his first big effort and was quickly followed by Brendon Leitch before Marcus Armstrong and then Liam Lawson traded fastest times. Raoul Hyman also pushed himself into the picture with a blistering lap just five thousandths off series leader Lawson with four minutes to go.
As the session clock started to countdown the final few minutes, Armstrong bagged a low 1 minute 23.4 second lap to go quickest before Auer then bettered that by a tenth, clocking the fastest lap of the weekend with a 1.23.310. The Austrian, clearly now at one with his car after a challenging first half of the championship, was enjoying his trouble free running, but mindful of the Taupo circuit's ever-present ability to change over a race weekend.
"It's been a very smooth weekend so far," he said. "We’ve barely changed anything on the car. It was a very difficult qualifying though and for some reason the lap time was similar to second qualifying but the driving style had to be completely different. It was a tough one but I am very happy to end up at the top. Normally during the weekend you just get quicker and quicker, but here some corners get quicker and other get slower because of dust or wind change, you have to really concentrate on getting the braking and exit right. It's difficult to know after the out laps what to do."
Muth was impressive taking third, another in the low 1 minute 23s while Lawson, after the euphoria of a fantastic Saturday, had to be content with a second row starting slot. Hyman and Leitch made up row three, with Kazuto Kotaka and Calan Williams on the fourth row. Russian Artem Petrov and the Czech Republic's Petr Ptacek completed the top ten, which was covered by the remarkably close margin of just over six tenths of a second.
2019 Castrol Toyota Racing Series – Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy qualifying, Round 4 Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo
1. Lucas Auer (Austria) Liam
2. Marcus Armstrong (New Zealand)
3. Esteban Muth (Belgium)
4. Liam Lawson (New Zealand)
5. Raoul Hyman (United Kingdom)
6. Brendon Leitch (New Zealand)
7. Kazuto Kotaka (Japan)
8. Calan Williams (Australia)
9. Artem Petrov (Russia)
10. Petr Ptacek (Czech Republic)
11. Cameron Das (United States)
12. Petru Florescu (Romania)
13. Jackson Walls (Australia)
14. Parker Locke (USA)
15. Thomas Smith (Australia)
16. Dev Gore (United States)