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Evans Opens Campaign With Sensational Highlands Pole Position

Simon Evans was at his best in qualifying at Highlands Motorsport Park. Picture Bruce Jenkins

Simon Evans showed his class in the first qualifying session of 2022 to grab the championship's first Castrol Pole Position Trophy with a blistering fastest lap.

Evans - runner up last year - had shown good pace in Friday's testing but found another gear when it mattered and carved over a second off his Friday best to grab pole position on the long and challenging Highlands Motorsport Park circuit.

Friday's fastest driver Justin Allen maintained his form in qualifying to secure the other front row starting slot for the first race on Saturday afternoon, less than two tenths behind the Giltrap Racing Wet & Forget car.

"Everyone was sort of up and down yesterday in testing so we didn't really know where we were in relation to the others, but it was a very good lap and myself and the team are pretty pleased to go under the 1 minute 53 second mark," said a delighted Evans afterwards.

"I'm pretty happy starting the race from pole position of course and really the focus will be to make a good clean start and to try and control the race from there."

It was Friday pace setter Justin Allen who set the early standard in his NAPA Autoparts car with a 1 minute 53.104 lap - quicker than anything recorded on the previous day. Evans then put his experience at the track and knowledge of his TR86’s sweet spot to good use to go fastest on 1 minute 52.925 seconds. It remained unbeaten for the remainder of the 20 minute session.

At the halfway mark those two remained four tenths up on the rest of the field, with Clay Osborne leading the chase on a 1 minute 53.526 as the session entered its closing minutes.

Surprise of the session ended up being newcomer Dion Pitt in the Ultra Interiors car, who showed that his grounding in club racing has been a very good one with a late 1 minute 53.484 lap to secure third place on the grid for his first Toyota 86 race, and eclipsing Osborne's time to be top rookie.

Osborne and Evans' team mate Marco Giltrap rounded out the top five, with North Island Formula Ford champ Matthew McCutcheon sixth fastest and Hugo Allen, who clocked the best time in three of Friday’s four sessions, having to be satisfied with seventh on the grid. Todd Prujean was an impressive ninth in his debut qualifying run in the category while Brock Gilchrist rounded out the top ten.

Reigning champion Rowan Shepherd, back in his championship winning chassis, was down in 11th with plenty of work to do in the first race. The first race of the weekend takes place on Saturday afternoon over eight laps of the Highlands Motorsport Park.

Toyota 86 Championship 2022 –Round 1 Highlands Motorsport Park – Qualifying

POS#DRIVERTEAMTIME
14Simon EVANSGiltrap Group Motorsport01:52.9
299Justin ALLENInternational Motorsport01:53.1
35Dion PITTAction Motorsport01:53.5
415Clay OSBORNEJames Marshall Motorsport01:53.5
584Marco GILTRAPGiltrap Group Motorsport01:53.6
696Matthew MCCUTCHEONAction Motorsport01:53.7
723Hugo ALLANThe Heart of Racing01:53.8
874Todd PRUJEANRichards Motorsport01:53.8
910Brock GILCHRISTCareVets Racing01:53.8
1072Zac STICHBURYMackenzie Motorsport01:53.9
111Rowan SHEPHERDAction Motorsport01:53.9
1291Ronan MURPHYAction Motorsport01:53.9
1322John PENNYAction Motorsport01:54.5
1414Fynn OSBORNEJames Marshall Motorsport01:54.7
1552Rianna O'MEARA-HUNTThe Heart of Racing01:54.8
1655Christina ORR-WESTDayle ITM01:55.0
17222Todd FOSTERInternational Motorsport01:55.0
188Mark MALLARDMark Mallard Racing01:55.0
199Sam COTTERILLInternational Motorsport01:56.1
2011Will MORTONiMac Race Engineering01:56.2
2125Chelsea HERBERTThe Heart of Racing01:58.3

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