Three wins for rookie teenager at NZF1600 opener
It was a perfect weekend for young Pukekohe driver Liam Lawson at the opening round of the New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship held in adverse conditions at Timaru International Raceway on Saturday. Also doubling as the second round of the South Island F1600 Championship (SIF1600), the 14-year-old set fastest lap in qualifying and won all three races. Local Christchurch driver Michael Collins was second fastest in qualifying and three times finished runner up to Lawson.
Eighteen drivers faced heavy drizzle and a slippery track for qualifying on Saturday morning followed by a very wet first race. Most drivers had a wet ‘set-up’ for race two on a wet but drying track and then raced the third on a completely dry circuit. It was the first time for Lawson at Timaru and only his second race weekend in a Formula 1600. Earlier in October Lawson had an abrupt ending to his F1600 debut in Christchurch. After qualifying fastest at the opening round of the SIF1600, engine trouble in the early stages of race one brought an ending to his weekend.
“We’re stoked with winning today,” commented Lawson. “It’s the best result we could hope for after what happened at Ruapuna. We came here wanting points and the best way to do that is to win, so really happy.”
Starting alongside Lawson, Collins always had the advantage of better initial grip and lead the field away in all three races. But Lawson always had the superior speed over Collins older Class 2 car.
"We always knew that Liam (Lawson) would be quick so not surprised by the results today,” said Collins.
Third overall for the weekend was Southland’s Ethan Anderson from Dyson Freeman and Grant Campbell. The trio had several close battles in all three races along with Jordan Michels who was looking strong for a top overall result only to be thwarted with engine trouble in the last race.
While Lawson takes an immediate lead in the national competition, Collins has extended his lead in the South Island championship from Ethan Anderson with Royce Bayer third.
For the second year running on offer for the winner of the national title will be the opportunity to attend an international ‘shoot-out’ to determine who wins a $US200K fully supported drive in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in 2018.
Drivers and teams now head to Invercargill for the third round of the South Island championship 3-4 December, then two consecutive rounds supporting the 2017 Toyota Racing Series in Christchurch (12-15 January) and back in Invercargill (19-22 January).
Liam Lawson and Michael Collins at Timaru.
Photo: Media 77 Photography.