Charlie Wurz of M2 Competition has won the Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship after taking a commanding victory in the Denny Hulme Trophy race at Taupo International Motorsport Park.
Only needing to better New Zealander Callum Hedge to take the crown, Wurz laid down a statement with a commanding victory over Laurens van Hoepen, Hedge only able to finish fourth.
That still sees Hedge finish second in the championship in what shapes up to be a massive year for the Kiwi with a full-time Porsche Carrera Cup Australia campaign on the cards.
A late Safety Car for a stranded Adam Fitzgerald did bring the field together for a 4 lap dash to the line, the #7 holding his composure off the restart to put time on those behind once again.
Van Hoepen matched the pace of the championship winner throughout the early laps only to drop off in the latter stages. Second place still compliments the abilities of the New Zealand Grand Prix winner with a championship battle unfolding around.
It was a different Kiwi rounding out the podium, James Penrose driving to a superb third having started 12th on the grid. It brings an end to his hard run of form of late after taking two wins earlier in the season.
Liam Sceats was also quick off the front row, running third most the race before dropping off late to lose two positions. A 5 second penalty for a jump start did compound his chances of race success however Sceats pulled well clear of sixth-placed Jacob Abel to keep fifth come race end.
Tom McLennan returned strongly after missing out on the New Zealand Grand Prix with a sore wrist, bouncing back with seventh place ahead of Race 2’s winner Chloe Chambers.
Chambers was another massive mover in the field having started 16th on the grid. It’s been a weekend of revelation for the 18-year-old as she aims to progress in her motorsport career.
Kaleb Ngatoa could only manage ninth after running fourth on Lap 1, his tyres dropping off dramatically in the dying stages to give a way past for those behind.
David Morales also had a monster end to the race, finishing 10th after serving a drive through earlier for his role in a Lap 1 incident.
The other Kiwi in the field, Breanna Morris, also made great strides forward to finish 12th following an incredible opening stint which saw her run as high as 10th.
Sceats and Wurz both started well as did van Hoepen who immediately went on to challenge for the lead, the Austrian emerging from Turn 1 in front over the Dutchman with Sceats in third, albeit before accruing a 5 second penalty for a jump start.
Hedge bogged down on the grid but kept his composure to hold position as the mid-field clattered together at the first corner, a number of cars running onto the grass and Louis Foster and Josh Mason spinning.
Both resumed under their own power with no Safety Car required.
Lap 2 was where Hedge got a move done on Ngatoa, moving up to fourth with Wurz, van Hoepen and Sceats 5 seconds up the road.
Morales also worked past Ngatoa to fall into fifth, the Kiwi’s tyres proving challenging after his Race 2 charge.
The American’s luck ran out on Lap 6 however, a drive through penalty awarded for his role in the Lap 1 incident.
The other two Kiwis in the field were also showing great pace, Penrose sitting in eighth after starting 12th and Morris in 11th after starting 17th.
Both gained a spot after Morales served his penalty whilst Penrose also got through Ryder Quinn to be sitting sixth after Lap 9.
The Kiwi’s charge then continued with a move on Ngatoa to take fifth, a massive gain of half the field after just 10 laps of racing.
Up front Wurz began to pull away from van Hoepen and Sceats began to duel. Hedge was some distance down the road, his chances of championship glory seven seconds up the road.
Rain began to throw a spanner into the works, although light but threatening.
Hedge continued punching out some solid laps to pull within 5 seconds of the lead.
A Safety Car intervention with 6 laps to go was a blessing for Hedge with the gap gone and the leaders in touching distance.
It was contrasting luck for Sceats whose 5 second penalty hung over his head with the field now all line-astern.
Quinn and Adam Fitzgerald were the cause of the interruption, coming together at Turn 7 and both spinning, the Irishman left stranded on track. To add to his misery he was also awarded a drive through for causing the collision.
He eventually resumed under his own power to create a four lap dash for the line, Wurz now with a job to do to win the championship.
He restarted well with van Hoepen hot on his tail. It wasn’t to be for Hedge who ran wide into the final corners to allow Penrose a way through.
Sceats also had a moment that same lap, Penrose moving up to third from twelfth on the grid. Hedge followed through the very next lap to sit fourth.
|2nd||Laurens van Hoepen|
Header Image: Toyota Gazoo Racing