Na­tional F1600 ti­tle un­der­way in Ti­maru

The Press - - Sport - Ben­jamin Car­rell

The open­ing round of the New Zealand For­mula 1600 Cham­pi­onship has 24 cars lin­ing up in Ti­maru on Satur­day.

Also dou­bling as the se­cond round of the South Is­land F1600 Champs, the one-day event will see more young driv­ers join­ing the field, mak­ing it one of the best line-ups for sev­eral sea­sons.

It was Auck­land’s Josh Bethune that won the open­ing SI round in Christchurch a fort­night ago, an im­por­tant three-race meet­ing that many use to pre­pare for the NZ ti­tle fight.

It proved to be an ‘arm-wres­tle’ be­tween three re­turn­ing driv­ers, Bethune from Auck­land, South­land’s Jor­dan Michels, Christchurch’s Bai­ley Pater­son and rookie James Pen­rose from Ran­giora.

With Bethune, Michels and Pater­son each claim­ing a race win, it was Bethune’s two se­cond plac­ings that sealed the round win in his favour.

Bethune comes into the sea­son with the aim of re­tain­ing his 2017/18 South Is­land ti­tle and win­ning the na­tional cham­pi­onship.

Also show­ing po­ten­tial at the Christchurch round were Jack Noble-Adams from Can­ter­bury and Zac Stich­bury from Hast­ings.

Noble-Adams re­turns for an­other sea­son while Stich­bury steps up from karts­port.

Now join­ing the grid are Ro­torua’s Blake Evans in the ex-Michael Scott My­gale SJ11, Auck­land’s Tom Alexan­der in the brand new Ca­reer Rac­ing Spec­trum 015 and Cal­lum Craw­ley from Feild­ing driv­ing the ex-Rus­sell In­gall Van Die­man RF92.

Alexan­der has ex­ten­sive F1600 ex­pe­ri­ence hav­ing com­peted over five years ago, since then gain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in the BNT V8s, TR86 and more re­cently in the ECB Su­perUtes Se­ries in Aus­tralia.

Both Evans and Craw­ley come with suc­cess­ful ex­pe­ri­ence in the NZ For­mula First cat­e­gory. While Craw­ley won the 2017/18 NZ For­mula First Cham­pi­onship, Evans re­cently won their win­ter se­ries.

Such is the close­ness of the com­pe­ti­tion that both the na­tional and South Is­land se­ries are cat­e­gories where driv­ers can­not af­ford to fal­ter.

Fin­ish­ing is a pri­or­ity, not fin­ish­ing means a loss of a points scor­ing op­por­tu­nity. The F1600 cat­e­gory runs three Classes, mainly de­ter­mined by date of man­u­fac­ture.

With a change in reg­u­la­tions con­cern­ing in­board sus­pen­sion mount­ings be­ing re­moved, Van Diemen Stealths’ have moved from Class 1 into Class 2 un­less they are rac­ing with three-way dampers.

Bethune leads the South Is­land champs in Class 1 from Michels, Stich­bury, and Grant Camp­bell while in Class 2 Pater­son leads from Robert Toshach, Jack Noble-Adams and Cameron Free­man.

Seven cars are cur­rently com­pet­ing in Class 3 with Andy Downs lead­ing from Gary Love, Roger McKen­zie and Dave McKen­zie.

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