The sixth round of the Hi-Q Components NZ Formula Championship took place at a wet and windy Hampton Downs over the weekend. The top three championship contenders all headed into the weekend with one objective; lead the points come Sunday night. While it was Arran Crighton who maintained his series lead, Matt Podjursky and Bramwell King both took race wins and closed down Crighton's lead.
Matt Podjursky took his second ever pole position in qualifying, one that may prove pivotal in his hunt for the Championship. Arran Crighton’s last lap effort moved him ahead of Bramwell King to start on the front row of the grid.
Podjursky used his pole to give him the best advantage in the early phase of race one, leading Crighton and King. The race came down to the final 100m off race track as Podjursky got the run on Crighton before the duo banged wheels to try to decide the winner. Podjursky eventually crossed the line first ahead of Crighton and King.
Reece Hendl-Cox soon joined onto the back of the leaders but was unable to challenge for a podium position and ended up fourth.
Travis Day dropped back from the pack in sixth but made quick work of gaining the gap back as he made it by Chris Symon and into fifth while Kaleb Ngatoa and Liam Foster battled it out for seventh spot. Ngatoa eventually holding onto the position. Callum Crawley was not far behind, finishing where he started in ninth.
It was a great display of wet weather skill by Bramwell King in the wet conditions during race two, as he won the race in dominant fashion. The conditions didn’t take long to catch someone out in as Alex Hawley and Dylan Smith made contact resulting in Hawley getting stuck in the gravel trap. Unable to get going again, a safety car was called to retrieve him while Smith received a post-race exclusion.
Meanwhile rookie racer Kaleb Ngatoa displayed his skill in the wet, moving up to third from sixth before the safety car intervention. Upon the restart on lap four, Ngatoa sat a long way behind the leading pair of King and Podjursky and appeared to lose any hope of a win.
It didn’t take long for Ngatoa to make up that gap and move into second, putting Podjursky within striking distance of championship rival Arran Crighton. The three then shuffled positions again see Crighton finish second ahead of Podjursky and Ngatoa. The rookie appeared to struggle on the final corner and was unable to fend off a run by the pair.
Callum Crawley and Liam Foster battled it out all race for fifth position, while Reece Hendl-Cox and Dylan Smith fought for seventh not far behind them. Crawley crossed the line fifth ahead of Foster while Hendl-Cox beat Smith to the line, Smith taking eighth after starting 12th.
Chris Symon and Travis Day finished a distant ninth and tenth followed by Ian Foster, Ron Carter and Amy Smith. The trio fought it out in the final stages of the race, coming past the crowd three wide most of the way.
The final race of the weekend was held in even worse conditions than race two. The slippery conditions saw most move very slowly off the line although Travis Day got the start of the race, moving from seventh to first before turn one. Similarly, Kaleb Ngatoa moved from sixth to second as Matt Podjursky struggled to get off the line. Liam Foster jumped from eighth to slot into third at turn one.
Ngatoa quickly moved by Day to take the lead early on lap one. As they crossed the line to complete the first lap Ngatoa lead Liam Foster and Bramwell King before the safety car was deployed for Alex Hawley who ran off at the final turn on lap one.
Before the restart Travis Day would fall victim to a broken throttle cable, ending his race then and there.
The race restarted on lap five and signalled the start of chaos as drivers weighed up the risk-vs-reward of their potential manoeuvres. Podjursky was first to lose control in his PowerBuilt Tools machine before collecting Liam Foster in the process. Liam immediately leaving the car with a severely broken wrist. The incident brought out the red flag to ensure Liam was taken care of and his car could be removed without further limiting the amount of racing remaining.
The race restarted on lap seven, with Ngatoa out in front and holding off a lucky Matt Podjursky who held onto second place after his contact with Liam Foster which could have had huge championship implications. As the pair headed towards turn three Ngatoa ran off the road, leaving Podjursky to take the lead ahead of Bramwell King.
Ron Carter was next to fall victim to the wet track, spinning around at the dipper before Chris Symon ran off on the final lap. Meanwhile, Bramwell King had gotten by Matt Podjursky to take the lead and win the race ahead of Podjursky and Callum Crawley.
Crighton holds onto his championship lead, although it shrinks to 29 points from Podjursky with King a mere three points further behind in third. With only 32 points between the top three, the racing is set to be close and intense at Hampton Downs on March 25/26 for the penultimate round.
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