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Jordan Michels wins titanic battle for New Zealand Formula 1600 title

A titanic struggle right down to the last race of the season has seen Southland’s Jordan Michels win the 2018/19 New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship title. With a ‘never-give-up’ attitude along with some Southland grit, Michels headed into the final race of the five-round series still six-points behind Auckland’s Josh Bethune. While battling for the lead on the last lap and with the title within his grasp, Bethune was spun out of the race ‘gifting’ Michels enough points to take the championship.

“I’m lost for words,” exclaimed Michels. “My thoughts are with Josh (Bethune) and his team, that is rough luck and I feel for him and the team.”

Bethune has always been the driver to beat, leading the championship since the first race in November last year. Right from the start of the final round, Bethune appeared to be in charge setting the fastest lap in qualifying and gaining another valuable two-points for the effort. He then went on to win the first race from Michels extending his lead to ten points.

In the second race, Michels was able to pull this back to six-points finishing ahead of Bethune in second. Rookie driver Callum Crawley took the win.

As Michels explains, the Ron Frost Memorial Trophy feature and final race of the series did not go according to plan.

“It wasn’t that flash as we started fifth and had to work. We were able to jump to fourth and battle with Spike (Kohlbecker) but meanwhile James (Penrose), Callum (Crawley) and Josh were getting away up front. I was still fourth heading into the last lap but couldn’t quite get to the top three, when on the back straight Josh spun and retired from the race.

“It’s been great racing for the championship and to go to the last race to decide the title says a lot about the competition. It’s been my toughest season so far. Yes, we were lucky, but we have had our share of bad luck as well. I’m very proud of the team and grateful for their effort over the season. Congrats to Callum for winning the round.”

Michels’ team had been on the back-foot after practice on Saturday afternoon.

“We had a huge crash in practice yesterday at turn one,” said Michels. “It was a big impact and we damaged a lot of parts on the car we don’t normally have spares for. We were able to get the car going only through the help of other competitors’ team helping with the necessary parts. I’m so grateful to all in the category to get me going again. It says a lot about those who race in Formula 1600.”

Crawley won the final feature race adding the Ron Frost Memorial Trophy to the Morrie Smith Memorial Trophy he won last weekend at Manfeild Park at the fourth round. His two race wins at Pukekohe secured him the round plus third place overall behind Bethune. Fourth overall went to Zac Stichbury from the Hawkes Bay with Canterbury’s James Penrose fifth.

Within the category there are also three separate classes of racing. Michels also wins the Class 1 title from Bethune with Crawley third. In Class 2, Penrose takes the title ahead of fellow Cantabrian’s Jack Noble-Adams and Robert Toshach. Andy Downs wins Class 3 from Noel Atley and Dave McKenzie.

While the NZ title has now been wrapped up, most drivers will head south for the sixth and final South Island Formula 1600 Championship round in Timaru 6 April. Bethune has a comfortable 83-point lead over Michels and will look to retain his title from the previous season.

2018/19 New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship Points 5/5 rounds (Top 15)
Position, Driver, Points
1 Jordan Michels 568
2 Josh Bethune 539
3 Callum Crawley 443
4 Zac Stichbury 403
5 James Penrose 382
6 Jack Noble-Adams 325
7 Spike Kohlbecker 277
8 Robert Toshach 251
9 Cameron Freeman 190
10 Dominic Robertson 178
11 Andy Downs 164
12 Grant Campbell 159
13 Noel Atley 137
14 Simon Spencer-Bower 133
15 Ben Stiles 128

1 Josh Bethune Ray GR17 1:02.328
2 Callum Crawley Spectrum 1:02.433
3 James Penrose VD Stealth 1:02.784
4 Jordan Michels Mygale SJ13 1:02.847
5 Spike Kohlbecker Mygale SJ08a 1:03.003
6 Zac Stichbury Mygale SJ08a 1:03.067
7 Kurt Petersen 1:03.377
8 Alex Hawley VD Stealth 1:04.201
9 Nick Buxeda Van Diemen 1:04.425
10 Kim Crocker Van Diemen 1:04.512
11 Jack Noble-Adams VD Stealth 1:05.118
12 Dominic Robertson VD RF92 1:05.515
13 Andy Downs Lola 642e 1:07.229
14 Robert Toshach Spectrum 08 1:07.234
15 Tony Graham Reynard 1:07.375
16 Dave Silverton PRS 1:07.927
17 Steve Heffernan VD Stealth 1:08.127
18 Cameron Tanner 1:09.673

Race 1
1 Josh Bethune Ray GR17
2 Jordan Michels Mygale SJ13
3 James Penrose VD Stealth
4 Callum Crawley VD RF92/Spectrum 015
5 Spike Kohlbecker Mygale SJ 07a
6 Zac Stichbury Mygale SJ08a
7 Kurt Peterson VD Stealth
8 Nick Buxeda VD RF00
9 Kim Crocker VD RF00
10 Alex Hawley VD Stealth
11 Dominic Robertson VD RF92
12 Jack Noble-Adams VD Stealth
13 Tony Graham Reynard
14 Robert Toshach Spectrum 08
15 Andy Downs Lola 642e
16 Dave Silverton PRS
17 Steve Heffernan VD Stealth

Race 2
Callum Crawley VD RF92/Spectrum 015
Jordan Michels Mygale SJ13
Josh Bethune Ray GR17
Spike Kohlbecker Mygale SJ 07a
Zac Stichbury Mygale SJ08a
Kurt Peterson VD Stealth
Jack Noble-Adams VD Stealth
Kim Crocker VD RF00
Nick Buxeda VD RF00
Alex Hawley VD Stealth
Dominic Robertson VD RF92
Tony Graham Reynard
Robert Toshach Spectrum 08
Dave Silverton PRS
Andy Downs Lola 642e
Cameron Tanner VD RF90
Steve Heffernan VD Stealth

Race 3
1 Callum Crawley VD RF92/Spectrum 015
2 Jordan Michels Mygale SJ13
3 Zac Stichbury Mygale SJ08a
4 Spike Kohlbecker Mygale SJ 07a
5 James Penrose VD Stealth
6 Kurt Peterson VD Stealth
7 Nick Buxeda VD RF00
8 Alex Hawley VD Stealth
9 Jack Noble-Adams VD Stealth
10 Dominic Robertson VD RF92
11 Tony Graham Reynard
12 Robert Toshach Spectrum 08
13 Cameron Tanner VD RF90
14 Dave Silverton PRS
15 Andy Downs Lola 642e
16 Steve Heffernan VD Stealth
DNF Josh Bethune Ray GR17

Photo: Geoff Ridder

Prepared by SB Networks on behalf of the South Island Formula Ford Club

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