Liam Sceats leaves the Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship’s opening round as the top-ranked Kiwi, sitting second overall, behind only M2 Competition teammate Roman Bilinski.
The Auckland-based teenager finished in the top five of all three races at Taupo International Motorsport Park, taking his first podium of the year in the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy feature.
He now sits 25 points behind Bilinski and one ahead of Australian Formula 3 star Christian Mansell.
“The big learning curve for me this weekend was all about the Pirelli tyre,” says Sceats. “I had done one day on them before the start of this championship, whereas my biggest rivals have extensive experience with them in Europe. When it came to preparing the tyres, understanding them, being confident with the various grip levels and managing them in long stints I have plenty to work on compared to them.
“Looking back, I think I could’ve been more aggressive,” he adds. “Whether it be because I’m managing my tires too much to anticipate the drop-off and not pushing hard enough mid-race because of this or losing positions from defending, that isn’t making it hard enough.”
Sceats qualified on the front row for the final race and led the first several laps, only to be overtaken by his more experienced rivals. Mansell and Bilinski pulled a gap but were reeled in on the final circuits.
“This management did show, as in the last six laps of the race, we started to catch the leaders back up, and with one more lap, we would be able to fight for P2,” he adds.
His 2023 Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship rookie campaign was run on Hankook tyres, but the series switched to Pirelli for 2024 following a fire at Hankook’s Daejeon plant.
Pirelli is the official tyre of choice for most European junior series, including the British Formula 4 Championship, the GB3 Championship, the Formula Regional European Championship, where Bilinski competes, and Formula 3, where Mansell is based.
Despite this, the Kiwi contender leaves the round with a good haul of points as he looks towards charging forward over the next four weekends.
“It was amazing working with M2 Competition again,” he said. “Working in a professional environment with engineers and mechanics who are just as determined as I am is great, and after one weekend, I have already learnt so much.
“Thank you to my partners of the Tony Quinn Foundation, Omega Rental Cars, Kiwi Driver Fund, James Kirkpatrick Group Ltd, JFC Ltd, Jayco Auckland, Bayleys, Pro drill Ltd, Giltrap Group, Auckland City Toyota, Creme Insurance, Tell My Story, and Embroidery Works. It was terrific to carry your brands around with me this weekend.
“With a better understanding of the Pirelli tires, I’m excited to head to Manfeild for round 2 this weekend.”