The competition hots up this weekend for the 2024 NAPA Auto Parts New Zealand Formula Ford Championship. Aucklander Seb Manson has a narrow four-point lead over Christchurch’s Will Neale, with Blake Knowles a further seven points back with three races at Ruapuna in support of the Super Sprint event in Christchurch.
While Manson continues to show he is fastest on track, winning three out of four races at the opening round a fortnight ago in Timaru, he cannot get complacent as both Neale and Knowles threaten with a consistency in finishing on the podium.
Throw into the mix the fastest rookie driver, Izaac Fletcher, who is fourth overall along with Dylan Grant, and we have a real battle on the line for each race.
Neale was quickest in qualifying for Round 1, giving him an important bonus of two points, while Manson’s seventh place in the final race at Timaru allowed both Neale and Knowles to narrow his points lead.
Tensions ran high at Timaru, with the top three visiting the Race Director’s office on numerous occasions, something not seen in the FF paddock for some time.
In this type of championship, consistency pays and finishing down in the points or not at all can be a decisive factor in the overall title fight.
While the top three drivers from round one have a jump on the field, others are quite capable of podiums and scoring key points. Fifth-placed Dylan Grant came away from Timaru with two-fourths and a third, while Mason Potter, Simon Hunter and Dylan Petch are all within reach of finishing on the podium.
The fight for Class 2 honours is also tight with Cameron Freeman and Cameron Tanner both tied on 284 points. One DNF in this class will be championship-defining. A key prize for this Class is an FT50 test from Toyota Gazoo Racing NZ.
The event also doubles as the final round of the 2023/2024 Yokohama South Island Formula Ford Championship, with Manson poised to take the title ahead of Petch, Caleb Byers and Fletcher.
Drivers will face two 10-lap and one 12-lap races over the weekend with a $1,010,10 cash prize for the fastest qualifier provided by the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy, which also provides a travel fund for competitors.
The winner of the overall title will receive a fully funded two-day Formula 4 test in the US with Kiwi Motorsport. They will also have an FT60 test compliments of the Tony Quinn Foundation.
The 2024 NZ Formula Ford Championship includes the prestigious Morrie Smith Memorial Trophy up for grabs at the final race of the third round. The Ron Frost Memorial Trophy will be contested at the final race of Round 4, and the Stephen Gillard Memorial Trophy 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 Parts who provide a $300 prize for Driver of the Day, Yokohama and the Tony Quinn Foundation.