Chambers makes history – Wurz retakes series lead with one race to go
American racer Chloe Chambers made motorsport history in New Zealand today – winning the penultimate race in the 2023 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship. In doing so she became the first woman to win a race in the 18 year history of the country’s Toyota-based premier single seater championship.
Chambers started from pole position and using a set of new scrubbed tyres – sacrificing her qualifying tyres for the afternoon’s feature race in the process – and gave herself as much of an advantage as possible. The 18 year old made the most of it and converted a near-perfect start into a lights-to-flag victory ahead of Kaleb Ngatoa.
“It feels really good and it’s also my first win in cars as well, so it feels great after everything this season,” she beamed afterwards.
“At the beginning Kaleb was hanging with me and I know he tried a couple of times to get past but I just kept cool, kept putting in the laps and was able to do that all the way through the race and just build a little bit of a gap towards the end.
“It’s an important moment for my own confidence. I’m going into the 2023 season with great confidence and to have my first win behind me is a great thing.”
Ngatoa was Chambers’ only challenger and he chased the former W Series driver all the way through the 18 lap race but had no answer for her speed. Towards the end she pushed hard to break the Kiwi and raced home to a one and a half second lead at the flag.
It was a championship changing race for Austrian Charlie Wurz too. Starting on old tyres he was another to make a great start and found himself in third place at the first corner.
With Ryan Shehan behind him on fresher tyres and a pack that included Laurens van Hoepen and championship rival Callum Hedge hard on his heels, he drove a faultless race to beat Hedge by three places on the road and turn a three point deficit into a three point lead with only the final race – where he will start from pole position – remaining.
With the large group behind Wurz on a combination of old and fresh tyres, no car was able to break free from the group and that hurt Hedge the most as he got stuck in seventh unable to make the slightest impression on the cars in front. And to be fair to him, none of those ahead made any progress either despite most having a small speed advantage over Wurz.
The only bonus for Hedge was Josh Mason getting a post-race penalty for contact with Ryan Shehan that spun the American out on the last lap, elevating Callum two places in the results and mitigating the hit to his championship chances.
The most popular winner of the season so far – and the ninth to date – took the flag ahead of Ngatoa, Wurz, van Hoepen, Josh Mason, Liam Sceats, Hedge, Louis Foster – who did well to hold onto a top ten place after visibly having the least grip in the pack by the end – Ryder Quinn and Jacob Abel in tenth.
With one race to go, it’s down to Wurz and Hedge and whoever finishes ahead in the Denny Hulme Trophy race is the champion. With the wild weather of Cyclone Gabrielle closing in on the Taupo International Motorsport Park, the only other question is whether that final race could be a wet one.