Southland’s Jordan Michels leads the New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship after the opening round in Timaru on Saturday. Also doubling as the second round of the South Island F1600 Championship, Michels has extended his lead in the series continuing his winning form from a fortnight ago in Christchurch.
Fastest throughout the weekend and making his F1600 race debut was Auckland’s Callum Hedge (Mygale). Having topped the time sheets in Friday practice and in Saturday morning’s qualifying, the 13 year old went on to comfortably win the first two of three races. However, a slipping clutch in the final 12-lap race saw Hedge retire, the round win slipping out of his grasp.
Second quickest over the weekend was Joshua Bethune (Mygale). Having twice finished runner up to Hedge he took over the lead in the third race only to have electrical gremlins rob him of the win. He dropped down the order but still finished in 13th and holds onto fifth in the South Island and third in the national championship.
Michels has arguably had his share of bad luck and this round his and the team’s experience shone through. His win in the third race secured the round win after finishing third in the two-preceding races.
“It was a fantastic turn of luck,” commented Michels. “We have had some tough years and it was me who didn’t finish the final race a year ago in Timaru.”
“In saying that, we mustn’t get into a false sense of security but continue to work as this is a championship where you must finish races.”
Also impressive in only his second F1600 outing was Nelson’s Matt Butchart (Van Diemen RF88) competing in the Historic Class 3 category. Winner of the South Island F1600 Club Scholarship, Butchart was the leading Class 3 car in all three races and now leads the national championship. However, it is Joseph Oliver (Crossle) who leads the South Island series having finished all six races so far with Butchart having one race retirement in the opening round.
“It’s been a steep learning curve and half the battle has been just learning the track,” commented Butchart. “It’s been great to be competing up amongst the top Class 1 cars today.”
Robert Toshach continues to be difficult to beat in Class 2. Toshach (Spectrum) has now been the leading Class 2 car in all six South Island series races.
“It’s been a matter of keeping it consistent,” said Toshach. “Very happy to have finished the weekend with a good result.”
Also showing consistent result for the weekend was Southland’s Ethan Anderson (Van Diemen Stealth) and Christchurch rookie Bailey Paterson who is currently in second in the SI series ahead of Anderson, while Anderson slots into second overall in the national series. Returning to the category is Kurt Peterson who was on target for a podium in the final race before a starter-motor issue saw him retire out of the race.
Drivers and teams will head to Invercargill for the next South Island round 2-3 December before the next two national rounds in January, also in the South Island.
2017/18 New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship
Overall Championship Points after 1/5 rounds (Top 10)
1 Jordan Michels 102
2 Ethan Anderson 91
3 Josh Bethune 83
4 Callum Hedge 82
5 Bailey Paterson 81
6 Robert Toshach 72
7 Steve Edwards 66
8 Matt Butchart 58
9 Kurt Peterson 50
10 Steve Heffernan 50