FEILDING, New Zealand – Pukekohe’s Liam Lawson will look to seal the 2016/17 New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship title this weekend at Manfeild Park, Feilding. With a maximum of 122 points available and a 110-point lead over rival Michael Collins, the 14-year-old driver just needs to finish one of the three races to win the championship at the fifth and final round of the season.
“I’ve done a lot of Formula First racing (at Manfeild) so I know the track very well,” commented Lawson. “It is a matter of ‘dialling’ the car in on test day and making sure we finish races.”
Lawson has almost obtained the perfect record this season, winning 11 of the 12 races competed so far and setting fastest time (pole position) in qualifying at the first four rounds.
The experienced Collins remains undaunted by the uphill task. Driving an older Class Two car, Collins has always been competitive finishing second to Lawson in eight races, enough to seal the Class Two title.
“Anything can happen on the day,” said Collins. “There is always a chance so we will give it our best shot. I raced there (Manfeild) a couple of years ago and did all right and can remember the track but never been there with this car.”
In his second season of Formula 1600 racing, Southland’s Joseph Oliver (Crossle 55F) leads the Class Three category from Christchurch’s Andy Downs (Lola 642a).
“It’s been a pretty good season so far,” commented Oliver. “It’s the first time to the North Island tracks so we want to ‘bring it home’ this weekend at Manfeild. The competition has been pretty good. Andy (Downs) has been getting faster all season.”
This weekend’s fifth round of the NZF1600 championship also doubles as the fifth round of the North Island Formula 1600 Series. Even though Lawson has missed two of these rounds, he is third on the points table, still with a chance of taking out that title as well. Tauranga’s Kim Croker currently leads from Jono Buxeda from Tuakau.
For the second year running on offer for the winner of the national title will be the opportunity to attend the international Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship Shoot-out at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, to determine who wins a $US200K fully supported drive in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in 2018.
Photo courtesy of Geoff Ridder.
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