Monday, Dec 3 08:56pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Josh Bethune goes three-for-three in Formula 1600

At the halfway mark in the 2018-'19 South Island Formula 1600 Championship, Auckland driver Josh Bethune has taken a commanding lead after a perfect third round at Teretonga Park, Invercargill.


Bethune was fastest in qualifying and won all three races giving him a 69-point lead over Southland's Jordan Michels with Canterbury rookie James Penrose third overall.


It was a weekend of racing where Bethune was both quick and reliable while his nearest rivals faltered allowing the teenager to take control of the championship.


“I'm quite pleased with that result," Bethune said.


"Last year we had issues so we have been targeting both reliability and speed, making sure we are at the top of our game.”


Both Penrose, Michels and Christchurch's Bailey Paterson had issues in at least one race. Consistency paid for not just Bethune but for UK's Ben Stiles who finished second for the round, and Jack Noble-Adams third.


Stiles has come back to NZ with more F1600 experience and finished fourth in all three races. Christchurch's Noble-Adams claimed a podium third in the final race coupled with two fifth places for the weekend.


Michels remains second overall on the points table finishing on the podium twice but retiring out of race 2.


"Qualifying was good, just a couple of hundredths off pole," said Michels.


"We were pleased with the setup in race 1 and had quite a good dice with Josh (Bethune). Unfortunately the engine over-heated in race two. The boys did an amazing job to replace it in time for the final and I was able to bring it home in second.


“All credit to Josh, he did a good job of qualifying and certainly knows where to put the car in the right places.”


Rookie driver James Penrose continues to push the front runners.


"The round went well and I learnt heaps," Penrose said.


"Unfortunately part of the exhaust broke in the final race. We fixed it and got back out but is is just one of those things. Better to happen now than in the two national rounds coming up."


Within the F1600 Championship competitors compete in three different classes. Bethune also leads Class 1 while Stiles has taken the lead of Class 2 from Penrose with Cameron Freeman third. Southland's Noel Atley continues to lead Class 3 from Andy Downs and Roger McKenzie.


The Championship now takes a break over Christmas before competing in Christchurch 12-13 January and then back at Teretonga a week later 18-20 January. Both rounds also double as NZ F1600 Championship rounds.


Photo: Richard Dimmock