Collet takes Castrol TRS season’s first pole position
Brazilian ace Caio Collet put in a sensational late lap in first qualifying for the 2020 Castrol Toyota Racing Series at Highlands Motorsport Park to hold off the challenge of champion Liam Lawson.
It was the first pole position for the new-look mtec Motorsport engineered by R-Ace GP team and gave them first blood in a battle of four closely matched teams.
Qualifying got underway without two of the Kiwi Motorsport drivers. Amaury Cordeel and Jose Blanco were involved in a significant crash at the final corner in the last test session on Friday. As a result of the incident and fears of concussion, it was decided to stand down Cordeel for the remainder of the weekend. Blanco was good to go but the team needed more time to prepare a car for him so he would sit out qualifying and start the first race in the afternoon from the back of the pack.
Qualifying was over for Lucas Petersson quickly too. Heading out on the warm up lap close to the mtec Motorsport team mate Jackson Walls, the two made contact and bent the front left suspension on Petersson's car, forcing him into the pits at the end of the warm up lap. He would sit on the side lines for the rest of the session without clocking a qualifying time.
It was karting sensation Emilien Denner who was first to show some form as the 15 minute session got underway. He went to the top of the timesheets as the first hot laps were recorded on a 1 minute 31.2 seconds with Grégoire Saucy and Spike Kohlbecker also featuring in the early group of pace setters. It was Saucy who was first under the 1 minute 30 second mark for Giles Motorsport.
The times then began to tumble as the field of drivers explored the potential of the new Toyota FT60 around the challenging twists and turns of the Highlands Motorsport Park, with many of the corners designed to replicate some of the great corners of world motorsport.
German star Lirim Zendeli continued his testing form to clock a 1.29.24, the first of the representative lap times with cars and tyre temperatures at their optimum. Saucy then M2 Competition's Brazilian ace Igor Fraga both took turns at the top of the timesheets as the clock ticked down before reigning champion Lawson rocketed to the top with a 1 minute 28.4 second scorcher. That looked to have sealed pole position for the opening race before Collet crossed the line in the dying moments to stop the watch at 1 minute 28.1 seconds.
“The team did a really good job," he said afterwards. "To put the lap together was quite tricky, as there was quite a bit of traffic but I am happy overall. We might make some changes to the car for the race as it was a bit tricky to handle. I am looking for a more consistent car, let's see how it goes in the race.”
Lawson held on for a front row start to get his championship defence underway. Zendeli and Fraga continued their front running pace to secure third and fourth on the grid respectively while the third row was taken by Saucy and Red Bull Junior Yuki Tsunoda. Franco Colapinto and Petr Ptacek line up seventh and eighth with Jackson Walls and Oliver Rasmussen in ninth and tenth respectively.
The only lay racer in the series Chelsea Herbert - the sixth to take on the challenge of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series - acquitted herself very well as she put in a personal best lap time to secure 16th position on the grid. Nineteen cars are scheduled to take the start in the first 15 lap race of the championship on Saturday afternoon.
Qualifying results here