Crosbie takes back-to-back NZ Formula Ford Championship titles
Southland’s Alex Crosbie has retained his national Formula Ford champion status after winning the 2023 NAPA Auto Parts New Zealand Formula Ford Championship (NZFF) title in Christchurch over the weekend. The final of four rounds saw some intense competition and rivalry between the top-contenders with Crosbie finishing all four races including winning the final 12-lap feature to make certain his second title. Second overall was Blake Knowles followed by Daniel Brown and Sebastian Manson with William Neale in fifth.
“It’s definitely great to top the weekend off with a win and the NZ championship as well,” commented Crosbie. “Being consistent was the key for the weekend and not have any poor finishes. It was really close and clean racing all weekend which I really enjoyed. It was about making sure I finished in front of my rivals, which we did.”
Also decided at the meeting held at the Euromarque Motorsport Park was the 2022/23 Yokohama South Island Formula 1600 Championship (SIFF) title which went to Cantabrian Blake Knowles with Crosbie finishing runner up after six rounds of racing over the summer season.
“Absolutely stoked,” said Knowles. “It was about being consistent and finishing in the top bunch. I couldn’t afford not to finish a race.”
While Crosbie was the one to beat in both title races, the key to Knowles’ championship had been success at the penultimate round at Teretonga Park, Invercargill.
“We went into last weekend’s round (at Teretonga) about 60-points behind him (Alex Crosbie). He had a DNF (did not finish) in the first race so we had to maximise our weekend which we did that in turn helped us coming into this round. It’s been really close racing between me, Alex and Will (Neale) all weekend.”
Winner of the NZFF round was rookie William Neale who won the first two races on Saturday and finished third in both of Sunday’s races. He claimed both national and South Island Class 2 titles as well as the South Island Rookie of the Year.
“It has been more than I had ever hoped for at the beginning of the season,” said Neale. “I’ve been racing both Alex and Blake throughout our years of karting so it’s great to continue this in Formula Ford.
“We’re learnt heaps over the season and will go away and do a lot of work over the winter and get ready for next season.”
Crosbie was immediately quick setting fastest lap in qualifying and winning the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy $1,010.10 cash prize. Rain was to have an impact on the first two races on Saturday. The opening race started in the rain with a number of drivers electing to run with a wet setup. With a drying track, those who stayed with a dry setup prevailed with Neale winning from Crosbie, Knowles, Brown and Dylan Petch.
It was the opposite for Race 2 with rain falling late in the race making the track ‘greasy’ in places and saw title contenders Crosbie and Brown heading off track late in the race and finishing down the order while Neale took the checkered flag from Blake Dowdall, Knowles, Manson and Mason Potter.
Knowles won the third race, this time in dry mild conditions from Crosbie, Neale, Dowdall and Manson while Crosbie sealed his title, winning Race 4 from Knowles, Neale, Manson, Brown and Potter.
Crosbie becomes only the third driver to twice win the national title in consecutive years. Ashley Stichbury won in 1992/93 and 1993/94 and Andre Heimgartner in 2010/11 and 2011/12.
Both Dave McMillan (1972/73 and 1975/76) and Grant Campbell (1977/78 and 1988/89) are the only other two-time winners.
As part of the overall prize package supported by the Tony Quinn Foundation, Crosbie gets the opportunity to test a Toyota Formula Regional Oceania FT60 while Knowles will test a FT50.
The $230 NAPA Auto Parts ‘Driver of the Day prize was awarded to Knowles who also won the Stephen Gillard trophy for the national Rookie of the year.
The Napa Auto Parts NZ Formula Ford Championship and the Yokohama South Island Formula 1600 Championship are also supported by Yokohama, the Tony Quinn Foundation and NAPA Auto Parts.