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Grant ready to increase lead in Giltrap Group North Island Formula Ford Series at Taupo

Having won all three races at the opening round of the 2023/24 Giltrap Group North Island Formula Ford Series (NIFF), Dylan Grant heads to Taupo International Motorsport Park looking to increase his lead at the one-day meeting on Sunday. It won’t be straight forward with several top South Island Formula Ford Championship competitors also making the trip north for the second round.

Driving a Van Diemen RF03, the defending NIFF champion now has a 40-point lead over Zach Blincoe (Mygale SJ07) with Blake Dowdall (Spectrum 015) in third and rookie Reagan Edwards (Spectrum 015) in fourth.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Grant. “It’s good to have a healthy points lead heading into Taupo. It’s going to be a bit different this season as we will have a different tyre strategy. We expect the degradation won’t be as big a worry as last season with the new surface.”

Making the trip north are three South Island competitors looking to get some experience on the new Taupo surface and test themselves against the North Island competition. Seb Mason (Spectrum 015) currently leads the South Island Formula Ford Championship after taking six wins from seven starts while Will Neale (Van Diemen Stealth) sits third overall having won the last round in Timaru. Also in the mix is current South Island champion Blake Knowles (Van Diemen FR05), who is looking for his first win of the season. All are race winners with previous experience on North Island tracks so will increase the rivalry for Grant.

Also returning to the category is international Kiwi Porshe Michelin Cup competitor Zac Stichbury, who will drive his multiple NZ Formula Ford championship winning Mygale. NIFF Chairman Shane Drake said, “Its great to have Zac back for some mileage in his Formula Ford as a number of other NZ categories have locked out competitors from the junior Australian feeder series.”

Rookie Toby McCormack (Van Diemen RF01 Scholarship car) will be looking for a podium finish after shinning in the first-round finishing fourth in the opening race followed by two sixth placings after being taken out in R2 and an engine issue slowing him in R3.

A substantial Rookie prize of a large tool kit package from Napa Auto Parts will be offered this year by NIFF to the highest placed rookie. Last season it was a real duel-out between Blake Dowdall and Dylan Grant which went down to the final race of the season.

While the Taupo circuit has traditionally been hard on tyre wear, the new surface presents a challenge for all competitors at the three-race meeting.

“It should be better on tyres,” commented series co-ordinator Ian Barlow. “Previously it was very coarse and hard on tyres but our Yokohama tyre should stand up very well so we are hoping that we may get some better tyre longevity as we are only into the second round with an allocation of eight tyres for each competitor for the first four (rounds).

“We have qualifying and three races on Sunday then four a week later at the third round in Feilding. It’s the same for everyone so restrictions and tyre strategy will play an important part.”

This season again sees a $500 cash prize for fastest qualifier provided by the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy. The award is part of the $60,000 Formula Ford prize pool from the Tony Quinn Foundation with funding for travel and testing opportunities with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing NZ.

Qualifying is followed by two x 10-lap races and a 12-lap finale with the NAPA Auto Parts $300+gst trade voucher to be awarded to the driver of the day.

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