A Weekend of Firsts for round 2 of the North Island Formula Ford Winter Series
Round 2 of the Feilding Auto Electrical winter series kicked off over the weekend, and with 11 cars entered in the TR Group Formula Ford cup, it was sure to be an exciting day of racing.
Qualifying started the day in dry conditions, led once again by Callum Crawley in the #79 Spectrum 015 (with a 1:13.324) over Brodie McConkey in the #8 Mygale and Speedsport scholarship winner Ronan Murphy in the sister spectrum. Zac Stichbury (Mygale #72) was 4th only 0.011 seconds behind Murphy, with Blake Evans (Mygale #9) only 3 tenths behind the pair. Cameron Tanner (Van Diemen #68) set a new personal best after a slight off at Splash when caught out following Billy Frazer to set the 6th fastest time, followed by Jordan Mountfort (Stealth #99) and Keith Millar (van Diemen #6). Unfortunately a transponder issue resulted in Billy Frazer (Spectrum #14) and Kaleb Ngatoa (Spectrum #15) both failing to set a time.
Race 1 started in equally dry conditions, and Callum Crawley was able to jump the wings’n’slicks Formula Ford 2000 of Josh Donahue, while Cameron Tanner got an Equally good jump to pass Zac Sticbury and go side by side with Blake Evans into turn #1. Unfortunately Blake slowed with gearbox issue coming out of the hairpin, ending his day on lap 1. However it was Crawley out front who was controlling the FF1600 pack, while also having some great racing against the FF2000 car of Donahue. Ronan Murphy sealed 2nd place from start to finish ahead of a hard charging Billy Frazer, who had stormed his way through the field to finish on the podium. Kaleb Ngatoa was 4th, but only half a second behind Murphy at the line to show just how close the racing was. Zac Stichbury, Brody McConkey, Cameron Tanner, Jordan Mounfort and Keith Millar rounded out the finishers.
Race 2 and the rain had started to come, causing multiple headaches for the engineers on the dummy grid, with some competitors coming to the dummy grid, dis-connecting and reconnecting the Anti-roll bars all within 5 minutes! The rain did stay away for the race, however the damage had been done and the track was damp. Some confusion on the grid added to the challenge of the conditions, and the race was under safety car on lap 2 for Billy Frazer, who had a spectacular pirouetted into the gravel trap at turn 1.
Brodie McConke had been awarded a drive through penalty for running wide at the last corner on lap 1, but tried to serve it under the safety car, much to the officials displeasure. He was later disqualified after the race.
Kaleb Ngatoa led the field to green, followed by Murphy and Crawley, who had been run off the road at the hairpin on lap 1 and lost ground. Stichbury and Tanner rounded out the top 5 at the re-start. Ngatoa would go on to extend his lead to 2 seconds across the line, taking his first win for himself and the car on debut in the championship. Stichbury made his way up to 2nd, followed closely by Crawley and Murphy, with Tanner having another strong showing in 5th. Mounfort finished 6th, while Keith Millar had failed to make the start.
The final race of the day once again started in wet but drying conditions, and had plenty of drama within. Crawley got another clean start to lead into turn 1, and Tanner continued his form of excellent starts to easily leapfrog Murphy and McConkey, however got baulked behind a slow starting Frazer, who was promptly going 3 wide into turn 1 with Murphy and Ngatoa. A lap later Ngatoa was tagged by Murphy after trying to go into turn 1 3 wide once again, this time with McConke, the end result being Ngatoa facing the wrong way and losing a bunch of positions and time. Tanner then had an off on Lap 4 at Higgens after locking a wheel, the superb gravel trap catching the car and not releasing it. Crawley and McConke Promptly followed his lead at turn 1, both outbraking themselves side by side and simultaneously sliding off the road, however Crawley was able to rejoin the first of the two, while on the last lap Murphy attempted to pass 2 of the slower Formula First cars, however this was done under yellow flags for the stranded Tanner, resulting in a post-race penalty that stripped the win off him, handing Zac Stichbury his first win of the series, and the third different winner of the day. Crawley managed to hold on to 2nd from Frazer, who had been struggling for pace but had the consistency to finish 3rd.
Overall an absolute fantastic weekend of racing with the large Grids providing action wherever you looked, from the front of the Formula Ford Field to the rear of the Formula First field, everyone is excited for even more action and even more cars at round 3, August 4th
Series points to be updated on the North Island Formula Ford Facebook page once results are finalised.
Report: Cameron Tanner