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Shwartzman takes double pole for Toyota Racing Series opener

by Peter Allen
Robert Shwartzman

Photo: Terry Marshall

Robert Shwartzman upstaged fellow Ferrari junior and local ace Marcus Armstrong to claim a double pole for the first round of the 2018 Toyota Racing Series at Ruapuna.

After both Wednesday and Thursday’s running was held in wet conditions, the circuit was just about dry enough for slick tyres in the first of the two qualifying sessions on Friday.

With the surface drying as time went by, top spot continually changed hands but TRS debutant Shwartzman ended up on top with a late effort of 1m22.068s.

His M2 Competition team-mate Richard Verschoor was second, 0.073 seconds adrift.

In qualifying for his first ever car race, Clement Novalak starred to take the third best time ahead of Armstrong, a fellow protege of Oliver Oakes.

Armstrong, the winner of the first race of the TRS campaign 12 months ago, was in the battle for pole but spun on his last attempt.

The Italian Formula 4 champion, who hails from nearby Christchurch, came closer in the second session when he was beaten only by his 2018 European Formula 3 team-mate Shwartzman, who improved to a 1m18.372s.

Armstrong was 0.318s behind in second, with Verschoor a further tenth back in third.

Having been fifth in the opening session, BRDC British Formula 3 runner-up James Pull made it an M2 1-2-3-4 in the second session, in front of Novalak.

TRS veteran Brendon Leitch was sixth on both occasions, leading Toyota 86 graduate Reid Harker, NACAM F4 champion Calvin Ming, Cameron Das and Taylor Cockerton in qualifying for the opening race.

Das and Cockerton shared row five again in the session that set the grid for race three, with Juan Manuel Correa and Charles Milesi in front of them.

Only 13 drivers are taking part in the first round, after a capacity field of 20 cars contested the 2015 and 2017 seasons, and 19 took part in every round in 2016.

For the first time, qualifying and the races from Ruapuna are being live streamed at?https://livestream.com/Volttv/events/8007925