Matthew McCutcheon is raring for the opportunity to win his maiden national title in the upcoming ITM New Zealand Formula Ford championship decider.
McCutcheon currently leads the series standings, sitting just 20 points ahead of Christchurch’s James Penrose.
The season finale will take place next month at Ruapuna as part of the New Zealand Formula Ford Festival.
It is a circuit McCutcheon is relatively unfamiliar with, only racking up his first laps late last week.
Still, the Auckland teenager anticipates another close event, believing the title will be decided on whoever remains the most consistent over the three races.
“It is going to be a very close meeting,” McCutcheon told Velocity News.
“James is a really fast driver, has a fast car, and we are at his home track – a place he knows very well.
“I had a chance to drive a Toyota 86 down there last Friday, and I learnt how cool and technical the circuit is.
“It is going to be fantastic to race James. The last few races we have had against each other, we finished within six-tenths of each other.
“So, it is going to be another dicey weekend against him and it will come down to the wire.”
Alongside the national championship trophy, the New Zealand Formula Ford series winner will also receive a test in a Toyota Racing Series car.
The Festival has a separate prize up for grabs. The victor of the day’s feature race will head to the UK and take part in the 50th Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch.
Despite the massive prize package on offer, McCutcheon says he isn’t feeling too much pressure ahead of the weekend.
“At the moment, there is more excitement than pressure [to win],” he said.
“While I really want to win the national title and the TRS test and trip to the UK, I haven’t thought about it too much.
“But I will do everything I need to win be the most prepared.
“I have Ruapuna on my simulator, so I will down a few laps on that. I have also been watching lots of onboard videos, and not just Formula Ford videos, trying to find all the bumps and cracks, working out the best lines through the corners.
“It is going to be a lot of fun.”
Last weekend had McCutcheon tick off another career milestone when he wrapped up the Giltrap Group North Island Formula Ford title.
Winning all three races at Hampton Downs, McCutcheon heads into the national championship finale with his tail up.
He also thanked the support of his mentor Robert ‘Cheese’ van Gisbergen, father to Supercars champion Shane.
“It was an awesome weekend,” McCutcheon said. “Everything was super smooth.
“I finally nailed my starts, something that I had struggled with before. But I got three blinders over the weekend.
“Cheese was awesome. He kept me cool and calm over the day.
“I had to finish all three races to claim the championship, and a bit of pressure did get to me. So, Cheese was there to keep me in the right headspace.
“Shane [van Gisbergen] also flicked me a message just to give me some last-minute tips.”
The New Zealand Formula Festival will be held on May 1 at Ruapuna circuit in Christchurch.