New Zealand Formula First points leader Chris Symon is buoyed with his on-track performances after the first two rounds of the summer series. However, the Palmerston North racer is aware of the looming challenges.
Symon kicked off the season with a near-perfect weekend, taking pole position and two race wins in the opening round at Manfeild.
Ashen skies and a damp Hampton Downs for round two failed to derail Symon’s quick start, and he would earn another win and podium result to hold an eight-point advantage over series veteran Liam Foster.
The explosive start for Symon is what he had intended after the disappointment of ending last season runners-up.
But he says being the new man for the field to chase still brings with it its own wave of pressure, and the battle between himself and the series’ front-runners is as tight as ever.
“We are definitely happy with how the season has started,” Symon told Velocity News.
“Two pole positions from two rounds has meant we’re consistently racing at the front which has allowed us to take an early lead in the points.
“Being out front means everyone is chasing you for the top spot, which brings its own pressure, as usual, I’ve been the one chasing.
“The racing is still close. Liam Foster is extremely quick and driving well as well as a few young guns improving each time they’re in the car.
“From here, we plan to race smart, collect as many points as possible and utilise our strengths.
“We haven’t done any upgrades or changes to our car between seasons, so I’m looking forward to some fine tuning over the summer break.”
With the title firmly riveted in his mind, Symon says the next few rounds will be a real test of his determination to win.
“Next weekend we head to Pukekohe, and I’m looking forward to playing some single-seater high-speed chess.
“Everything comes down to the slipstream, so I’m expecting a lot of cars at the front, especially with the return of Brody McConkey.
“We then head to Taupo, which is a track I enjoy. It brings up a lot more challenges than others and requires some extended driver skill to see the finish flag first.
“Then we’re off the New Zealand Grand Prix at Hampton Downs where we will use the International circuit for the first time. That will be wicked.
“Do Formula Vee’s have 5 gears? We may need it.”
Symon accredits two costly DNFS at Taupo and Hampton Downs as what ambushed his title pursuit last season.
Those retirements came in the midway portion of the championship, and despite winning six of the remaining eight races, he still fell shy of the overall crown.
He thus identifies the next few races as vital in terms of maintaining his championship ambitions.
“This will be the critical time in our season, making sure we get to the midway point with no issues,” he said.
“It is something that has hurt our chances in the past few seasons.
“Then we can really start to focus on how we’re putting our name on the trophy. But until then, we will race hard and collect as many points as possible.”
Main Image: Tayler Burke