Sharp & Christensen impress with race wins and podiums in South Island Formula 1600
Fast-rising young New Zealand racing drivers Louis Sharp and Zac Christensen both made big impressions at the fourth round of the 2021/22 Yokohama South Island Formula 1600 Series run in conjunction with promoter Speedworks’ major national motor racing meeting at Christchurch’s Mike Pero Motorsport Park at Ruapuna over the weekend.
With two more race wins and two other podiums over the four Yokohama F1600 class races held in a mix of hot & dry (Sat) and cool & wet (Sun) weather and track conditions, Sharp (Spectrum 015) was the big winner over the weekend.
The 16-year-old multi-time New Zealand kart champion claimed pole position in qualifying before going on to further extend both his Class 1 and overall series’ points leads, winning the second and fourth races, finishing third in the first and just begin pipped (the margin was just 0.004 of a second) for a win in the third.
It was fellow former kart star Christensen (Ray R20), however, who set the pace in the first two class practise sessions on Friday, joined Sharp on the front row of the grid after setting the second quickest lap time in the qualifying session on Saturday morning, then rocketed away from the start to win the first Yokohama Sth Is. F1600 series’ race of the weekend later that day very much as he liked.
The 17-year-old then went on to finish third in the second race, seventh in the third and fourth in the final – the latter after he lost a sizable early race lead to the Safety Car then was shuffled back to P4 after the re-start – to end in the weekend second overall.
“Yeah, a solid weekend, Christensen said last night. “With the conditions changing so much race by race we were chasing car set-up most of the weekend, but we also collected some good points and kept the car straight, so overall, pretty happy.’
Also feeling very happy after throwing everything at the weekend was Louis Sharp, particularly after all his hard work to claim the $500 prize for setting pole (courtesy the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy and the Tony Quinn Foundation) came to nought when Sharp got a less-than-stellar start and was swamped by the next two rows of cars as the 28-strong field of cars streamed down the Ruapuna circuit’s long start/finish straight before starting to jockey for position under brakes for the first corner.
With a fast-starting Simon Hunter already through down the inside Sharp did his best to limit the damage but he was powerless to stop legendary local kart international and sometime car racer Matthew Hamilton (Van Diemen RF88) slotting him back to fourth place.
Despite driving one of the older cars in the Yokohama South Island Formula 1600 field, (the ex-Andy McElrea 1990/91 NZ Formula Ford title winning Van Diemen RF88) Hamilton has proved that he and the car are still more than capable of running at the front. In fact, it was only a DNF in the fourth race of the weekend that saw him lose out on one of the first two spots on the round podium.
In saying that Hamilton earned enough from his win and two second places to claim third place for the round from fast-emerging young female driver Bree Morris (Ray GR17) from Auckland, quick local Jack Noble-Adams (Ray GR21), Christchurch karting legend Simon Hunter (Mygale SJ08A), and young Invercargill ace Alex Crosbie (Ray GR21)
With two more rounds of the 2021/22 Yokohama South Island Formula 1600 series to go Louis Sharp (Spectrum 015) now has a 92-point lead in the overall series points standings over Zac Christensen (Ray GR20) with fellow Cantabrian Matthw Hamilton (Van Diemen RF88) a further two points back in third place.
Sharp has now also extended his lead in the Class 1 category (>2000) over Zac Christensen (Ray GR20) and Simon Hunter (Mygale SJ08A).
After winning his class at the round at Ruapuna over the weekend Dyson Freeman (Van Diemen RF92) has closed to within 62 points of his brother Cameron Freeman (Van Diemen Stealth RF93) who leads the Class 2 (!990-1999) category. Matthew Hamilton meanwhile continues his absolute domination of the pre 1990 Class 3.