Home Featured Kaleb Ngatoa takes pole in the wet for TRS’s New Zealand GP

Kaleb Ngatoa takes pole in the wet for TRS’s New Zealand GP

by Bethonie Waring

Photo: TGR NZ

Kaleb Ngatoa claimed pole position for the New Zealand Grand Prix in the final moments of a rain-hit qualifying session.

The Toyota Racing Series field were forced to tackle a range of conditions over a single lap, as heavy rain hit parts of the Hampton Downs circuit and left other parts dry early on.

The red flag was brought out midway through the session, when Conrad Clark came to a stop off track. Clark was top of the order when the flag was brought out, and stayed there until the last few minutes of the session with most on grooved tyres.

A series of flying laps in the final three minutes gave Daniel Gaunt the top spot, but further improvements after the chequered flag ended with Ngatoa on pole with a 1m44.288s lap.

It’s Ngatoa’s first weekend in Formula 3-level single-seaters, having raced in Formula Ford last season.

Gaunt’s own improvement put him 0.065s behind, while Chris van der Drift was on pole for a few moments before being shuffled down to third.

Karting graduate Matthew Payne and Australian Supercars icon Greg Murphy were briefly on the front row but ended up fourth and fifth, with Clark shuffled down to sixth.

After impressive running on the first day at Hampton Downs, Murphy’s old Supercars rival Shane van Gisbergen couldn’t match the pace in the second qualifying session of the weekend. He was 0.881s off Ngatoa’s time and lines up 10th for Sunday afternoon’s grand prix.

Tom Alexander took seventh ahead of Andre Heimgartner and Damon Leitch.

Kenny Smith, who will be making his 50th grand prix start, will prop up the 16-car grid.

Qualifying results
Pos Driver Time Gap
1 Kaleb Ngatoa 1m44.288s
2 Daniel Gaunt 1m44.353s +0.065s
3 Chris van der Drift 1m44.417s +0.129s
4 Matthew Payne 1m44.563s +0.275s
5 Greg Murphy 1m44.739s +0.451s
6 Conrad Clark 1m44.753s +0.465s
7 Tom Alexander 1m45.074s +0.786s
8 Andre Heimgartner 1m45.110s +0.822s
9 Damon Leitch 1m45.130s +0.842s
10 Shane van Gisbergen 1m45.169s +0.881s
11 Billy Frazer 1m45.174s +0.886s
12 Brendon Leitch 1m45.183s +0.895s
13 Peter Vodanovich 1m45.329s +1.041s
14 Josh Bethune 1m46.422s +2.134s
15 Chris Vlok 1m46.523s +2.235s
16 Kenny Smith 1m58.835s +14.547s