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Potter shines at Manfeild as Knowles’ lead reduced in NZ Formula Ford Championship

Mason Potter has dominated the penultimate round of both the NAPA Auto Parts 2024 New Zealand Formula Ford Championship (NZFF) and the 2023/24 Giltrap Group North Island Formula Ford Series (NIFF). Four races held at the Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon in Feilding have produced some intense, close and clean single seater racing in which Potter emerged with two second placings and two race victories including winning the Morrie Smith Memorial Trophy. He now leads the NIFF and has jumped to fourth overall in the NZFF title fight.

“Really happy with the weekend,” said Potter. “After a great (NIFF) round two weeks ago at Hampton Downs, we had a lot of confidence coming into the round.”

Blake Knowles continues to lead the NZFF title race with one round remaining in a fortnight’s time at the Supercars meeting in Taupo. Two thirds and two fourth placings have allowed him to continue to accumulate valuable points although his overall lead has been reduced by Seb Manson who won two races and finished on the podium twice.

“Not a bad weekend,” said Knowles. “We struggled a little bit and lacked some pace. It was pretty intense and close racing all weekend. However, we achieved some solid results and it will be all to play for at Taupo.”

Seb Manson has managed to move into second overall, reducing Knowles’ lead from 75 to just 24-points. Manson set the fastest lap in qualifying winning the $1010.10 Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy cash prize. He then went on to win two races on Saturday after some close racing with Potter, Dylan Grant, Knowles and Blake Dowdall. He followed this up with two podiums, a second and a third placing, on Sunday but was pipped for the round win by Potter who had two race wins and two second placings.

Third overall is Will Neale who showed great pace standing on the podium twice on Sunday after his team changed his engine overnight.

“Manfeild always provides some good racing and this weekend the car was really hooked-up,” said Potter. “After two average South Island rounds, we came back home and did some testing at Hampton Downs and found a couple of tenths. I’ve had a lot of racing at Manfeild in both Formula Vee (First) and the winter series. After the first practice on Friday, we didn’t change the setup all weekend.”

In the Class 2 battle Cameron Tanner came away with the round win while Cameron Freeman continues to lead the national title fight with Jacob Cunniffe in third.

The weekend also doubled as the penultimate round of the 2023/24 Giltrap Group North Island Formula Ford Series. Heading to Manfeild just five points separated the top three drivers with Dowdall one-point ahead of Grant and Zach Blincoe in third. Potter held fourth, 74-points behind Dowdall and has now jumped into the lead with Grant still in second and Dowdall slipping to third.

Izaak Fletcher continues to be the top NZFF rookie driver with four top-ten placings while in the NIFF rookie standings, Toby McCormack (Van Diemen RF01 Scholarship car) continues to lead Reagan Edwards (Spectrum 015). Both are battling for a 237-piece SP Custom Series Tool Kit worth $3000 for the top rookie, provided by NAPA Auto Parts and SP Tools. Shane Drake continues to lead the NIFF Class 2 competition.

The NAPA Auto Parts Driver of the Day award went to Thomas Boniface on his return to Formula Ford racing after a serious car accident.

The winner of the overall NZ Formula Ford Championship title will receive a fully funded two-day Formula 4 test in the US with Kiwi Motorsport. They will also have a FT60 test compliments of the Tony Quinn Foundation while the Class 2 winner gets a FT50 test compliments of Toyota Gazoo Racing New Zealand.

The final round of both the NZFF and the NIFF takes place 19-21 April 2024 at the Taupo Motorsport Park as part of the support categories for the Repco Supercars Championship New Zealand round. This will include the Ron Frost Memorial Trophy to be contested at the final race and the Stephen Gillard Memorial Trophy which will be awarded to the highest placed Rookie at the end of the championship.

The NZ Formula Ford Championship is also supported by NAPA Auto Part, Yokohama and the Tony Quinn Foundation.

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