Twenty drivers will line up this weekend on the international circuit at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park with each aiming to add their name to the list of motorsport legends who have won the New Zealand Grand Prix.
The field will include two further New Zealand talents – taking the number of Kiwis competing in the race to eight.
2021 pole position holder Kaleb Ngatoa, who has been racing in Australia recently, will take part in the weekend under the Giles Motorsport banner and the most experienced driver in the field when it comes to New Zealand’s premier single seater championship, Brendon Leitch, is the final runner and was confirmed to join Kiwi Motorsport yesterday. Both drivers have been getting their eye back in with recent runs in historic single seaters.
Vastly experienced racer Chris Van Der Drift was confirmed over last weekend, while Dutch racer Laurens van Hoepen was confirmed earlier this week for the final two rounds of the Castrol Toyota FR Oceania Championship, starting with the GP event.
The 67th running of the race – postponed last year due to pandemic travel restrictions – boasts a full international field of drivers including some of the best rising stars in the world.
The race will be the fourth round of this year’s 2023 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship and will include all of the 16 drivers who competed last weekend at Manfeild – Circuit Chris Amon.
It means the field will have one Austrian, in current championship leader Charlie Wurz – son of former F1 racer Alexander Wurz – two English drivers in Indy Pro 2000 champion Louis Foster and Josh Mason, one Dutch driver in van Hoepen, Brazilian Lucas Fecury, four American drivers, two Australians and no fewer than eight New Zealanders gunning for glory.
With American Chloe Chambers and Kiwi Breanna Morris racing, it’s also the first time two women have competed in the New Zealand Grand Prix. Chambers in particular has shown good form in New Zealand on the back of a year in the international women only W Series.
The event is one of only two outside of the Formula One World Championship recognised as a bona fide Grand Prix event by the world governing body of motorsport – the FIA. The only other is the Macau Grand Prix, which these days is held for a slower specification of car than used in the New Zealand championship.
This weekend’s event will have a unique qualifying format, very similar to how Formula One runs its qualifying sessions. The session will be divided into three parts – the first 15 minute session, a second 10 minute session then a final 12 minute session.
The times in the first session will determine the grid positions for the first race, but instead of that being the end of the session, it will continue into a second session but will drop the slowest six drivers. The positions those slowest six achieve will determine their grid position – from 15th to 20th – for the GP itself.
In the second session, the top 14 drivers will be reduced to the top eight and the slowest six in that session will start the GP from ninth on the grid through to 14th. The final 12 minute session will see the top eight drivers fight for pole position and the top eight places on the GP grid.
There will also be prize money for the best of the 20 drivers to aim for this weekend, with the Castrol Pole Position winner taking home $500. The Grand Prix winner will get a cheque for $5000 with $3000 for the runner up and $2000 for the third placed finisher.
The 2021 event was won sensationally by Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen, who fought back from a pitlane start to take victory. He added his name to a list that includes some of motorsport’s all-time greats, including Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon and Jackie Stewart.
2023 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship Round 4 – New Zealand Grand Prix Entry List:
|Charlie Wurz||Austria||M2 Competition|
|Louis Foster||Great Britain||Giles Motorsport|
|Ryder Quinn||Australia||M2 Competition|
|Jacob Abel||United States||Kiwi Motorsport|
|Liam Sceats||New Zealand||M2 Competition|
|Callum Hedge||New Zealand||M2 Competition|
|David Morales||United States||M2 Competition|
|James Penrose||New Zealand||Kiwi Motorsport|
|Adam Fitzgerald||Ireland||Giles Motorsport|
|Ryan Shehan||United States||Giles Motorsport|
|Tom McLennan||Australia||Kiwi Motorsport|
|Billy Frazer||New Zealand||Hamilton Motorsport|
|Chloe Chambers||United States||Giles Motorsport|
|Josh Mason||Great Britain||Kiwi Motorsport|
|Lucas Fecury||Brazil||Kiwi Motorsport|
|Bree Morris||New Zealand||Giles Motorsport|
|Chris Van Der Drift||New Zealand||Hamilton Motorsport|
|Laurens van Hoepen||Netherlands||M2 Competition|
|Kaleb Ngatoa||New Zealand||Giles Motorsport|
|Brendon Leitch||New Zealand||Kiwi Motorsport|
2023 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship Schedule:
|1||Highlands Motorsport Park||13 to 15 January, 2023|
|2||Teretonga Park Raceway||20 to 22 January, 2023|
|3||Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon||27 to 29 January, 2023|
|4||Hampton Downs International Motorsport Park||3 to 5 February, 2023|
|5||Taupo International Motorsport Park||10 to 12 February, 2023|
Main image: Bruce Jenkins | Words: Supplied