Invercargill’s 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 over 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 was tyre management, with the new Pirelli tyres very different to those he had raced on previously.
Qualifying for the first race on Saturday was held on a wet track with slick tyres, where Crosbie set 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 for the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy, and Crosbie recorded the second-fastest time to secure a front-row start.
“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 was also on pole for the second race of the round early on Sunday due to his eighth place on Saturday, with Sunday morning’s race using a reverse top eight grid from the previous day’s result.
He led most of that race, but after 15 laps and with just 3 to go, the tyres were a lot worse than some of his international opponents, and he was passed late by China’s Gerrard Xie and Poland’s Roman Bilinski.
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.
On pole for the Denny Hulme Memorial race, he didn’t make his best start and dropped three positions. However, he maintained fourth 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 Manfeild 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.”