TAUPO, New Zealand – Pukekohe’s Liam Lawson has a handy 89-point lead heading into the penultimate round of the 2016/17 New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship this weekend at the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo. The 14 year old has won eight of the nine races so far in the five-round series and has plenty of momentum now he is on familiar territory.
Chasing him are three South Islanders, Christchurch’s Michael Collins ((Van Diemen RF91) and Southlanders Ethan Anderson (Van Diemen RF93 Stealth) and Jordan Michels (Mygale SJ13). All three head north seeking to stop Lawson’s (Mygale SJ08a) dominance of the series. With just six races left and a maximum of 244 points on offer, this is a championship in which to win you first must finish, any retirement has an impact on points accumulation and allows your rivals to move ahead. Both Michels and Collins have retired from one race each this season, the loss of points proving to be costly.
However, Michels is targeting his first win this season. “We had a great weekend of improvements (at Invercargill) and moving forward. We are still looking for that elusive win but have two rounds left in the championships.”
Anderson is the only other race winner this season and heads into the unknown, having never previously raced in the North Island.
“I’ve never been up North and hopefully I will be a fast learner,” commented Anderson. “Taupo and Manfeild (circuits) should be cool and a great way to end the series.”
Three classes of modern to historic Formula 1600 single seaters face qualifying and the first of three races on Saturday afternoon with the remaining two on Sunday. Lawson leads the national Class One while Collins is proving competitive in an older Class Two car and leads the class.
There is no let-up in the battle for Class Three honours with the leading two drivers heading north to do battle. Christchurch’s Andy Downs (Lola 642a) lost his lead to rival Joseph Oliver (Crossle 55F) from Southland at the last round in Invercargill. Heading into the third round Downs had a narrow three-point lead but a race retirement now means he is trailing Oliver by 37 points.
For the second year running on offer for the winner of the national title will be the opportunity to attend an international Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship ‘shoot-out’ to determine who wins a $US200K fully supported drive in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in 2018.
Photo courtesy of Euan Cameron
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