Lawson leaves it late for another pole position
He left it late, but Liam Lawson took pole position for Race 2 at the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park this morning, while Castrol Toyota Racing Series rival Marcus Armstrong took a last gasp third on the grid.
In another close qualifying session, Lawson put in his best lap with thirty seconds of the session remaining to take pole, eclipsing a rapid Lucas Auer who looked to have secured pole position with a 1 minute 23.475 second lap. Lawson beat that by three thousandths of a second, or the blink of an eye, to capture his second pole position of the weekend in Taupo.
“Three thousandths is very close,” he said afterwards. “Today we worked hard on the build-up procedure with the tyres. This tyre is a lot different to what I’ve been used to driving on and we got that right again.
“It was a lot cooler today so we had to be a lot more aggressive with it. The car was really good, we made some small changes overnight to help with the colder conditions and it definitely worked. Big thanks to M2 Competition again for giving me the car to do it.”
As with the first session on Friday, the field of drivers used only the last eight minutes of the qualifying session and all headed out on brand new tyres. The early pace in the fifteen minute session was set by Jackson Walls and Thomas Smith, with Smith first into the 1 minute 25 second bracket.
The really fast times came in the last six minutes. Lawson was first to nail a super-fast one, going under 1 minute 24 with a 1.23.718 lap time. Armstrong responded but was a tenth off before Russian Artem Petrov showed his pace with a lap good enough to put him second. The most experienced racer in the 16 car field, Lucas Auer, then looked to have sealed it with his best lap before Lawson's final effort secured pole position.
Armstrong had left himself one more lap and did go faster, to improve from fifth to third at the end of the session. Raoul Hyman saved his best effort until the end too, and wound up fourth, with Petrov fifth and Cameron Das alongside him on row three. Esteban Muth and Kazuto Kotaka will line up on row four while Calan Williams and Petr Ptacek complete the top ten, Ptacek making up for a disappointing Friday qualifying when mechanical issues ended his efforts. Eight tenths covered the top ten.
Race 1 gets underway early afternoon with Race 2 set to go at 5.30pm New Zealand time.