The Formula Open New Zealand Championship headed to Manfeild for the second round of the championship, with tight battles at the top of the field.
Tom Alexander headed to Manfeild with a perfect round one result, though it wouldn’t all go his way in round two.
Friday qualifying saw Alexander top the timesheets, with James Watson a close second and Josh Donohue third. Fergus Crabb and Leo Francis rounded out the top five, while Gary Rush missed qualifying after late nights carrying out an engine change saw him arrive at the circuit late.
Alexander lined up for the first race of the weekend alongside Watson, who notices the front wing of the pole sitter’s car was loose. Though Watson tried to bring attention to the issue it went unnoticed, as the race got underway.
Alexander took the lead with Watson, Donohue and Crabb in behind. Rush, having started from the back moved into fifth.
Early in the race, the top three runners built a small gap over the rest of the pack. Watson kept pressure on Alexander for the lead, until the leader’s front wing let go on lap 3.
Watson and Donohue looked to take advantage of the situation, though Alexander would hold onto the lead for a lap before both drivers would get past.
Donohue made a last-lap bid for the lead though Watson would hold on to it, to take the win, while Alexander held off Rush to remain in third. Leo Francis finished fifth after both Crabb and Geoff Harriman spun at different corners and were unable to finish.
Race 2 saw Alexander again lead the feild to turn one, with Watson close behind.
Watson would stay close to Alexander for the entirety of the race, never quite close enough to take the lead of the race.
The feild fell into place behind them, with Donohue ahead of Rush and Crabb.
A late spin by Francis bought out the safety car and it looked like a one-lap dash could be on the cards, however, the race finished under yellow flags.
Watson recorded the fastest lap of the race which meant a pole position start for race three.
Race three again saw Alexander and Watson fighting at the front of the field, pulling away from Donohue, Rush and Crabb who rounded out the top five.
Donohue pulled a small gap on Rush before receiving a black flag for exceeding track limits earning him a pitlane drive-through which dropped him back in the pack.
Late in the race, Watson and Alexander made contact on the exit of the infield hairpin, sending both cars off the track locked together.
Both cars found their way back on track in the position they had been prior to the indecent, Alexander in the lead with Watson in second, where they would finish the race, ahead of Rush and Crabb whilst Donohue drove back through the field for fifth.
Alexander leaves round two with a 34 point lead over Watson.
The field will be back on track for round three in Taupo, April 22-23.
Main image: Matt Smith