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Armstrong denies ‘animal’ Auer pole for final Hampton Downs race

by Elliot Wood

Photo: Toyota Racing NZ

Marcus Armstrong narrowly beat M2 Competition team-mate Lucas Auer to pole for the final Toyota Racing Series race at Hampton Downs.

The 18-year-old set a 59.780 second lap around the 2.8km circuit, just 0.073s faster than single-seater returnee and Red Bull junior Auer, who is competing in TRS in preparation for a Super Formula programme this year.

“I prefer starting on pole. Especially here – it’s a short run down to turn 1 and it’s not so easy to overtake here,” said Armstrong after taking his second pole of the weekend.

“Although Lucas [Auer] is a bit of an animal in the mirrors, [so] it’s going to be interesting.”

The top 14 on the grid were covered by less than a second, with M2 filling the top four spots on the grid thanks to the efforts of Liam Lawson and Artem Petrov, the winner of the chaotic first race of the weekend. Lawson was only 0.102s off pole.

“As the weekend progresses, it’s sort of natural that everyone bunches up a wee bit,” added Armstrong.

“We had an advantage from the first practice session this weekend and managed to keep it until the last quali session, which is not always that easy with all the telemetry and videos and analysis we do. So I’m really happy.”

Cameron Das failed to make it a M2 lockout of the top five after being beaten to the position by Victory Motor Racing’s Brendon Leitch. Giles Motorsport’s Raoul Hyman was seventh, ahead of Kazuto Kotaka (MTEC Motorsport), Esteban Muth (M2) and Petr Ptacek (Giles).


Qualifying results
Pos Name Team Time
1 Marcus Armstrong M2 Competition 59.780s
2 Lucas Auer M2 Competition +0.073s
3 Liam Lawson M2 Competition +0.102s
4 Artem Petrov M2 Competition +0.387s
5 Brendon Leitch Victory Motor Racing +0.477s
6 Cameron Das M2 Competition +0.579s
7 Raoul Hyman Giles Motorsport +0.584s
8 Kazuto Kotaka MTEC Motorsport +0.596s
9 Esteban Muth M2 Competition +0.673s
10 Petr Ptacek Giles Motorsport +0.707s
11 Jackson Walls MTEC Motorsport +0.770s
12 Calan Williams MTEC Motorsport +0.787s
13 Dev Gore Giles Motorsport +0.897s
14 Petru Florescu MTEC Motorsport +0.938s
15 Parker Locke Victory Motor Racing +1.205s
16 Thomas Smith Giles Motorsport +1.619s