Stunning CTFROC debut for Alex Crosbie
Invercargill racing driver Alex Crosbie has made a stunning debut in the 2024 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship.
The 17-year-old Southlander lined up for the first round of the series which attracts talented drivers from all over the world at Taupō International Motorsport Park at the weekend and made a big impression.
Crosbie compiled impressive results of eighth, third and fourth across the three races and to add his accomplishments he started two of the three races from pole position.
One of the biggest challenges throughout the weekend were the tyres which were very different to those he has raced on previously.
Qualifying for the first race on Saturday was held on a wet track but with slick tyres and Alex managed to record the seventh fastest time. Later in the day in the opening race of the round over 18 laps which again started in wet conditions he lost one position off the start and came home eighth.
The first action on Sunday morning was qualifying for the final race of the weekend, the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy race, and Alex recorded the second fastest time to grab a front row starting spot. “It was a surprise, he said later. “It didn’t feel like the best lap.” This later turned into pole position after fastest qualifier Christian Mansell of Australia received a penalty.
Crosbie also had pole for the second race of the round early on Sunday due to his eighth place on Saturday. Sunday morning’s race uses a reverse top eight grid from the previous day’s result and consequently Alex started from pole.
Crosbie led most of that race but after 15 laps and with just three to go the tyres were a lot worse than some of his international opponents and he was passed late in the race by Gerrard Xie of China and Roman Bilinski of Poland. However, third place in his first weekend in the series was an eye opener. There had been two safety car periods in the race and Alex was unsure if they hindered him or helped him. “The safety car periods helped me cool the tyres and I pulled a gap on my rivals after each one. It was a good result and was a pretty big confidence booster to be able to keep up with the top international drivers,” he said.
Back on pole for the Denny Hulme Memorial Race Alex didn’t make his best start and dropped three positions. However, he maintained fourth place throughout the race. “I managed to keep a gap on those behind me. I made a few mistakes but I am learning new ways to manage these tyres.”
After three races Crosbie is in a strong position in the points and is the leading rookie in the championship. The series now heads to Manfield Circuit Chris Amon in Feilding next weekend and Crosbie is looking forward to it. “The tyre wear at Taupō is always high but it shouldn’t be as bad at Manfield.
Support for Alex Crosbie’s campaign in the Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship comes from Stresscrete Southland Limited, the Peter H McMillan Legacy Fund, Golden Homes in the Southern Lakes, Rodin Cars, MotorSport New Zealand, Hamilton Brothers Building, Blacks Fasteners Limited, Invercargill Oil Shop, Invercargill Hose & Hydraulics and Ryco 24/7.