The North Island Formula Ford (NIFF) put on a show this weekend at Pukekohe, with round honours going to Alex Crosbie after an intense three-race battle with Liam Sceats. The spacial awareness of the duo resulted in multiple, intense, side-by-side battles for the lead, on occasion the cars running within millimeters of each other.
As was the trend from Race 1 on Saturday, Crosbie and Sceats resumed their epic duel at the front in Race 2, multiple lead changes between the pair were exchanged in tight wheel-to-wheel racing over multiple laps.
The 99 of Leo Scott also got in on the action, catching the pair and taking second on the road off Crosbie on Lap 3, whilst Kyan Davie and Zac Christensen joined the back of the lead pack and create an epic five car train battling for the podium places.
It was Crosbie who came away with Race 2 honours after Sceats was awarded a five second penalty for rolling on the grid before the lights went green. This dropped the 16-year-old to sixth overall post-race.
Christensen was also unlucky to be pinged with the same penalty, seeing both front row starters relegated down the order, Sceats in sixth and Christensen seventh.
Scott was the benefactor from this, promoted to second, whilst Davie rounded out the podium. Blake Dowdall was classified fourth and Mason Potter fifth.
The 8 lap race was cut one short after an incident on the front straight brought proceedings to a halt.
Race 3 followed a similar theme, this time with Christensen setting the pace over Sceats and Crosbie up front, more close racing lasting multiple laps and several overtakes.
A major incident also brought this one to an end early, Zac Christensen losing power coming out of Turn 4 leaving Sceats nowhere to go but into the back of him, spinning the race leader.
Christensen remained stranded and exposed on track, the first few cars managing to avoid contact until he was collected by a battling Blake Knowles, Judd Christiansen and Mike Davidson, the damage severe for all involved. All drivers walked away unharmed.
It was an unfortunate incident through no fault of any of the drivers, with Sceats having nowhere to go behind a slowing Christensen.
“Me and Zac (Christensen) were having a great battle again,” Sceats said, speaking to Velocity News.
“He led me into the first sector when, at Turn 4 where you get on the power, he was running quite slow, a lot slower than usual and that caught me out because it was so sudden and it was mid-corner.
“I also had Alex (Crosbie) right behind me as well, so when Zac slowed down there wasn’t anywhere to go.
“He had a mechanical failure so it wasn’t any fault of him or my own and it was unfortunate I made contact there which spun him around,” Sceats added.
“It’s not good to see what happened afterwards. It’s such an unlucky, unfortunate place to happen on track right there where it’s blind going around the corner and there’s not much for other people to go when there’s a car in the middle.”
The red flag brought about the conclusion of the race based on the running order of the previous lap, the win going to Sceats who was a nose in front of Christensen and Crosbie.
So tight was the racing that the gap between the front four was just .63 of a second, Matt HLZ keeping up with the trio to narrowly miss the podium by .11 of a second.
The weekend’s race winners relished the opportunity to compete against each other so closely and cleanly, with Crosbie using the exchanges as a learning opportunity to try and get the better of the 16-year-old.
“It was good for me battling with him (Sceats) up front, learning what he does at that track and what I can learn from, what I can do differently for the next races and what I can do differently to improve,” Crosbie said.
“You just have to be careful not to get too close with each other.”
Sceats shared those sentiments, recognising the battle between himself and Crosbie had been tight yet fair.
“We both gave each other the respect that we needed on track and gave each other room,” Sceats said.
“I’m happy that we both finished each race and never made contact once despite being wheel-to-wheel numerous times. I’m happy with how we raced.”
Having such a large crowd on hand at such a significant event, being the final Supercars round at the venue, was not lost on the pair who both described it as an experience to remember.
“It was awesome,” Sceats said.
“It was my Supercars event. Im happy I got to do one before Pukekohe shuts down.
“It was surreal having such a big crowd, nothing like I’ve ever driven before. It was awesome.
“It was also awesome to be in a support category for the Supercars. Ive never watched them live before so it was cool watching and seeing the drivers in the paddock.”
Being shown on live TV was also a plus for Crosbie, as was the crowd.
“It was pretty special with all the crowd and being on TV as well, to get the name out there. It was good,” he said.
Round 3 of the North Island Formula Ford takes the field back to Pukekohe on October 8 for a one day event.
Header Image: Geoff Ridder