Knowles begins title defence as the South Island Formula Ford Series gets underway
Blake Knowles heads a field of competitive young drivers this weekend as the opening round of the 2023/24 Yokohama South Island Formula Ford Series presented by Team Hutchinson Ford gets underway. Knowles (Van Diemen RF05) is back to defend his 2022/23 title over five rounds beginning at the Euromarque Motorsport Park in Christchurch, which hosts the Wigram Revival meeting over Saturday and Sunday. A full field of Formula Fords will compete over three races with the prestigious Wigram Cup on the line.
Also returning are Blake’s rivals Will Neale (Van Diemen RF94 Stealth), Caleb Byers (Ray GR21), Jacob Cunniffe (Sift SC96K), Dylan Petch (Ray GR20), Ryan Low (Ray GR08), Jack Noble-Adams (Ray GR21), Dan Kelly (Van Diemen RF94 Stealth), Michael Hey (Van Diemen Stealth Evo2) and Nigel Arkell (Van Diemen RF90).
Also joining the field is Aucklander Seb Manson (Spectrum 015) who will contest all five of the South Island rounds.
Two rookies are making the move up from kartsport to the single seater category with Jacob Begg (Van Diemen RF92) and Izaak Fletcher (Ray GR21) joining the grid.
The 18-race season gets underway at its traditional Wigram Revival meeting before heading south to the Timaru International Raceway (4 November 2023) and Teretonga Park (2-3 December 2023) leading up to the Christmas break.
The fourth round will take place at the Timaru Super Truck meeting 27-28 January 2024 with the finale back in Christchurch as part of the Super Sprint round 9-11 February.
Additional races have been added to three of the meetings with Rounds 1, 3 and 4 having four and Rounds 2 and 5 with three races, totalling 18.
Back on board are regular sponsors Yokohama, NAPA Auto Parts, the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy, Colville signs as well as the return of Team Hutchinson Ford.
The control A048 tyre for the category is produced by Yokohama while the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy will continue to provide a $500 cash prize for fastest qualifier at each round is part of the $60,000 prize pool from the Tony Quinn Foundation with funding for travel and testing opportunities with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing NZ. NAPA Auto Parts is providing a prize for ‘Driver of the Day’.
Team Hutchinson Ford Prize package for the overall Class 1 and Class 2 winners. This year sees an exciting prize for the NZ Formula Ford Championship Class 2 winner after moving the Stealth cars into the Class 1 category. Toyota Gazoo Racing have put up an FT50 test for the winner of Class 2 to encourage these entry level drivers and cars back into Formula Ford.
Three Classes are eligible to compete and must comply with the current Schedule F technical regulations. Class 1 are Formula Ford first manufactured after 31 December 1999 (including Van Diemen Stealth regardless of year of manufacture.
Class 2 are Formula Ford manufactured after 31 December 1989 and prior to 1 January 2000. Class 3 applies to Formula Ford manufactured prior to 1 January 1990.
South Island Formula Ford and Historic Single seaters will also be running as a support category this weekend with a field of 16 cars.