Home Featured Van Hoepen dominates on debut in New Zealand Grand Prix qualifying

Van Hoepen dominates on debut in New Zealand Grand Prix qualifying

by Peter Allen

Photo: TGR NZ

Laurens van Hoepen dominated a new Formula 1-style knockout qualifying format on his Formula Regional Oceania debut, claiming a double pole including the New Zealand Grand Prix.

Van Hoepen set the pace in the opening 15-minute session which would set the grid for Saturday’s first race at Hampton Downs and also eliminate the slowest six drivers.

The protege of AlphaTauri F1 driver Nyck de Vries, preparing for his second season in FRegional Europe with ART Grand Prix, was fastest by exactly one tenth of a second over one of the other additions to the grid for this weekend, Kaleb Ngatoa.

Callum Hedge was third ahead of Louis Foster, while championship leader Charlie Wurz will have to make do with seventh on the grid for race one.

Among those failing to make it through to Q2 were James Penrose, a two-time winner this season, as well as Billy Frazer. Tom McLennan did not take part in qualifying having already missed practice time on Friday after aggravating a wrist injury.

The 10-minute Q2 session reduced the field from 14 to the fastest eight. Just over a tenth of a second covered sixth through to 12th, and guest starter Chris van der Drift narrowly missed the cut in ninth by only 0.017s.

Adam Fitzgerald was fifth in Q1 but only 12th in Q2, with multiple Toyota Racing Series race-winner Brendon Leitch also among those exiting in 13th.

Van Hoepen was quickest again in Q2 but Q3 would prove to be the hardest-fought session at the front.

Wurz displaced his M2 Competition team-mate from top spot in the final five minutes, before Ngatoa set two laps that were narrowly quicker as he looked to repeat his GP pole of 2021. Liam Sceats then went over a tenth clear.

Wurz briefly claimed back provisional pole inside the last minute before van Hoepen immediately went more than a quarter of a second faster.

Foster claimed second, only 0.044s from pole in the end, with Ngatoa pipping Hedge to third. Wurz and Sceats will share row three.

Qualifying round-up
Race one grid
1 Laurens van Hoepen M2 Competition 1m30.697s
2 Kaleb Ngatoa Giles Motorsport +0.100s
3 Callum Hedge M2 Competition +0.161s
4 Louis Foster Giles Motorsport +0.234s
5 Adam Fitzgerald Giles Motorsport +0.283s
6 Liam Sceats M2 Competition +0.305s
7 Charlie Wurz M2 Competition +0.312s
8 David Morales M2 Competition +0.445s
9 Ryder Quinn M2 Competition +0.448s
10 Brendon Leitch Kiwi Motorsport +0.483s

Race three grid (NZ GP)
1 van Hoepen 1m29.877s
2 Foster +0.044s
3 Ngatoa +0.115s
4 Hedge +0.184s
5 Wurz +0.278s
6 Sceats +0.314s
7 Jacob Abel Kiwi Motorsport +0.494s
8 Morales +0.543s
9 van der Drift Hamilton Motorsport
10 Josh Mason Kiwi Motorsport