Saturday, Jan 12 06:04pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

James Penrose beats Josh Bethune in Formula 1600

Rookie driver James Penrose has won the opening race at the second round of the New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship held at the Mike Pero Motorsport Park this afternoon.


Penrose was able to hold out championship leader Josh Bethune who took second from pole-sitter Jordan Michels.


“I couldn’t be happier,” Penrose said.


“He (Bethune) was pushing me all the way and was particularly quick on the straight.”


A total of 28 cars took to the track for qualifying, one of the largest fields seen for some time in the category.


“That race went much better than qualifying,” Bethune said.


“Happy with how the race went, particularly on old tyres. I kept trying to figure out a way to get past him (Penrose) but he was particularly quick through the ‘Dipper’.”


Fourth home was international driver Spike Kohlbecker who is in New Zealand to contest the final four rounds of the national championship.


Having recently competed in Formula 1600 in Canada, Kohlbecker is keen to gain racing experience in the class here in New Zealand.


The sixteen-year-old American qualified fourth fastest in Bethune’s Mygale from last season.


“It is a really nice track here which I am really enjoying,” Kohlbecker said.


“It has a great mixture of turns, some fast, some tight. I love the ‘Dipper’.  It is complicated but if you get it right its really satisfying. So the aim tomorrow is to move up into the top three.”


Two other internationals are also competing. Australian Kyle Gurton (VD RF91) retired early after coming in contact with another competitor while Ben Stiles from the UK finished ninth overall.


The weekend round also doubles as the fourth round of the South Island Formula 1600 Championship. Drivers face two more races on Sunday including the 12-lap feature with the Wigram Cup up for contention.


Photo: Craig Crew