Advantage Hedge after Hampton Downs qualifying
Callum Hedge drew first blood in the final battle of the 2018-2019 Toyota 86 Championship fight by claiming an impressive pole position in damp conditions at Hampton Downs, leaving his title rival and series leader Jaden Ransley down in sixth place with plenty of work to do.
The best times were set early before the rain returned and prevented drivers from improving early session times but by then Hedge in the CareVets Scholarship car had not only claimed the top starting position for the first race, but also pole position for Sunday morning's Race 2 with the second fastest time in the session.
“The track was fairly dry in the first part of the session," he said afterwards. "There was a two wheel dry line so I managed to find a bit of clear space and put together five good laps and put it on pole. The car is going to be good, the CareVets guys always give me a good car, so it’s up to me to get off the line well and keep it out of traffic.”
Second fastest in qualifying was the impressive Kaleb Ngatoa, who had shown impressive speed in the wet during Friday testing in the JJ Wallers/Capture Signs car. Hedge's CareVets Scholarship team mate Arran Crighton took third place on the grid for Race 1, while Peter Vodanovich grabbed fourth before the rain came in the CMC Markets car.
Brock Gilchrist impressed once again in the NEXUS Logistics car to take a third row starting spot with fifth and be the lead performer in International Motorsport's stable of three racers. And try as he might to improve his starting position in worsening weather, Ransley was beaten by the conditions in the Miles Toyota machine and had to be content with sixth.
“I think the set-up and driving wasn’t really there in that session," he said. "P6 isn’t all bad, we can still make it up from there. We’re just going to have to fight in the races to get up the front and be with Callum and hopefully we can hang onto the championship."
Connor Adam in the Post Haste car and wet weather specialist Justin Allen in the Battery Town machine locked out the fourth row in seventh and eighth respectively, with Jordan Baldwin down in ninth in the Intermach machine, like Ransley leaving himself with plenty to do in the championship fight over the weekend. Campbell Stewart took tenth in the NZPGS/Hydraulink car to complete the fifth row. Young gun Connor Davison lines up 11th in the Hampton Downs/Highlands Toyota 86 while Leo Bult impressed for Darkhorse Racing in his North Western Toyota-backed racer to take 12th.
Jacob Cranston, Andrew Jackson and Sam Wright complete the 15 car field with the first race all set for Saturday afternoon. Ransley currently lads the championship from Hedge by just 18 points with Baldwin in a fighting third. The Hampton Downs round this weekend is the final round of the 2018-2019 championship.
2018-2019 Toyota 86 Championship - Round 6 Qualifying - Hampton Downs
1. Callum Hedge - CareVets NZ Ltd
2. Kaleb Ngatoa - JJ Wallers/Capture Sign
3. Arran Crighton - CareVets NZ Ltd
4. Peter Vodanovich - CMC Markets/MacClure's ITM
5. Brock Gilchrist - NEXUS Logistics/Giltrap Group
6. Jaden Ransley - Miles Toyota/Kitchen Studio
7. Connor Adam - Post Haste/Weigh Northland
8. Justin Allen - Battery Town
9. Jordan Baldwin - Intermach NZ/Carters Tyres
10.Campbell Stewart - NZPGS/Hydraulink
11.Connor Davison - Hampton Downs/Highlands
12.Leo Bult - North Western Toyota
13. Jacob Cranston - Best Bars/Vista Lite
14.Andrew Jackson - North Shore Toyota
15.Sam Wright - Tony Richards Toyota/Premier