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Knowles wins NZ Formula Ford title at closely fought round in Taupo

Blake Knowles has won the 2024 NAPA Auto Parts New Zealand Formula Ford Championship title after three closely fought races at the Supercars round held at the Taupo Motorsport Park in Taupo over the weekend. Just two-points separated Knowles from Seb Manson with Will Neale finishing in third. Also decided was the 2023/24 Giltrap Group North Island Formula Ford Series with the title going to last season’s winner, Dylan Grant, ahead of Mason Potter and Blake Dowdall.

Heading into the final fourth national round, Knowles had a handy 24-point lead over Manson with a maximum of 227-points on offer over three races. It was Manson who immediately dominated racing on Saturday, first setting the fastest lap in qualifying claiming two championship points and the $1,010.10 cash prize provided by the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy, then going on to win the first race, in the wet, from Grant with Neale in third and Knowles in fourth. This narrowed Knowles’ lead to just one-point while Neale was handily placed in third.

Knowles hit back on Sunday morning winning the second race from Manson and a fast-charging Zac Blincoe. This gave Knowles a ‘still narrow’ nine-point lead heading into the final race of the four-round championship.

The final 12-lap race provided some vintage Formula Ford racing and may be considered as having some of the best racing rivalry for some time with Neale winning the Ron Frost Memorial Trophy ahead of Manson, after an epic duel. Behind them was a battle for the final podium place with Knowles finishing ahead of Grant, Zach Blincoe and Fletcher. Third place for Knowles was enough to seal the overall and Class 1 national titles, two points clear of Manson with Neale in third followed by Potter, Grant and Izaak Fletcher.

Fletcher finished top Rookie ahead of Toby McCormack claiming the Stephen Gillard Memorial Trophy. Cameron Freeman was first in Class 2 ahead of Cameron Tanner and Jacob Cunniffe.

The round also doubled as the sixth and final round of the Giltrap Group North Island Formula Ford Series. This was also a closely fought championship with Mason Potter five-points clear of Dylan Grant and Blake Dowdall 35-points further back in third, heading into the final round.

Three top five placings for Grant, including a podium in the opening race, gave him the both the overall and Class 1 titles, 36-points clear of Potter, who suffered a mechanical failure in qualifying meaning he would be starting from the rear of the grid in all three races. Dowdall took third followed by Zach Blincoe and Seb Manson. Shane Drake won the Class 2 title while Toby McCormack won Rookie of the Series and a 237-piece SP Custom Series Tool Kit worth $3000, provided by NAPA Auto Parts and SP Tools.

Blake Knowles will receive a fully funded two-day Formula 4 test in the US with Kiwi Motorsport as well as a FT60 test compliments of the Tony Quinn Foundation while Cameron Freeman, winner of Class 2, has the opportunity to test a FT50 single seater provided by Toyota Gazoo Racing NZ.

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