Callum Crawley has grabbed himself a trio of chocolate fish after wiping the floor at the first round of the Manfeild Winter Series. The event was packed with action as those new to the class started to find their feet on the Manawatu circuit.
Qualifying saw Taylor Hurst on pole position with Callum Crawley close behind. Grid two saw some fresh faces to the grid in Ronan Murphy and Thomas Boniface qualifying 3rd and 4th respectively. As for the rest of the field Blake Evans qualified 5th, Craig Greenwood qualified 6th, newbie Kyan Davie was 7th for the Sabre Motorsport team while Andrew Tierney claimed 8th spot from Louis Redshaw in 9th who struggling with brake dramas throughout the qualifying session.
The opening race saw Andrew Tierney miss the start as #85 was quote “being temperamental”. The start of the race saw Crawley taking the lead on the opening lap while by lap 2 a noticeable gap was forming as Crawley, Hurst & Boniface broke away from the pack. By lap 3 Ronan Murphy had fallen down to dead last, only to make up places in the dying laps. Meanwhile, up front, another lead change took place as Hurst and Boniface took advantage of the draft of Crawley down the main straight as they slipped by. By the end of lap four the top three had a sizeable eight-second gap to the second group as Crawley snatched the lead back once again. Lap six was when we saw plenty of action from the second pack as Ronan Murphy moved up from eighth to fifth. As the top three steadied Crawley had the win in the bag from Higgins, as Hurst “made a mistake on the second to last corner and it cost me the win”. The final results were Crawley taking home the chocolate fish with Hurst and Boniface a mere eight-tenths behind. The second pack, nearly 11 seconds back from the top three saw a close battle with Redshaw prevailing from Murphy, who saw the race as a “good learning curve”. Following Murphy was Evans, Greenwood & Kyan Davie rounding out the finishers.
Race two began with a minute silence for ‘Mrs Manfeild’, Wendy Lester who sadly passed away after her battle with cancer at age 76 in April. After reflecting on the person that made Manfeild what it is today and a significant figure amongst the Formula Vee history, the field took off towards turn one, but the start took an interesting turn when Hurst, who was on the front row, bogged the car down massively off the line and somehow managed to only drop to third. Ronan Murphy had a moment costing him his race as “locked a brake coming into the hairpin”. This dropped Murphy back to second to last as Andrew Tierney had his own struggles as he spun twice on the opening lap. Lap two saw a three-way battle forming the same as the last race as Boniface led Crawley and Hurst into lap three. From then on Crawley and Boniface traded for first multiple times with Hurst trying as best as he could to snatch some spots. Entering splash on lap four Hurst had a large brake lockup as he backed away from Boniface and Crawley as they went toe to toe in through the infield section. The top three skipped away from the rest of the pack as constant battling was seen with Davie, Redshaw & Evans going three-wide through turn one on the second to last lap. Crawley began to fly away down the road from Boniface and Hurst in second and third as he led the second to last lap by a comfortable two-seconds. The last lap of the race was looking dull until the last corner which saw Boniface fall off the road on the outside of Hurst, leaving Boniface beached in the gravel trap and ending up as a DNF just 150 metres shy of the flag. Crawley took a dominant victory, his second for the weekend over Hurst, four seconds behind in second position. Blake Evans took full advantage of Boniface’s mistake and took the final position on the podium. Meanwhile, Davie and Redshaw were having a battle with a drag race to the line for fourth and fifth which Kyan Davies prevailed in. The final spots belonged to Craig Greenwood, Ronan Murphy and Andrew Tierney.
The final race of the day began with a hiss and a roar and off the line it was Crawley who converted as he split the gap between the Hurst and Boniface, thus grabbing the lead into the first turn. But it was short lived as Hurst fought back hard and got ahead to lead the opening and the second lap. This time a five-car fight emerged for the win including Ronan Murphy and Louis Redshaw into the mix with the usual top three we’d seen over the weekend, Crawley, Boniface and Hurst. The second to last lap saw Crawley get the lead via a three-wide move into turn one on Boniface and Hurst. Crawley then escaped the grasp of Boniface and Hurst as Redshaw moved into second position making moves through the top cars and literally wheel banging with Hurst as the move was made. This thrilling battle from the top five wasn’t finished yet as Boniface made a late move under brakes at the hairpin. This could only end the wrong way as Boniface simply had too much speed into the corner, leaving Hurst nowhere to go as he got shoved off the road and into the tyre wall. Hurst’s car had significant front right suspension damage and left the car out of the race and crossing the line on the flatbed. Meanwhile, Boniface was having his own moment after the touch up with Hurst, the former lost out as he would end up a disappointing 4th. Crawley claimed yet another win in dominant fashion as the carnage unfolded behind him. Louis Redshaw claimed second as scholarship winner Ronan Murphy claimed his first podium, sitting pretty through the last lap drama to bag definite confidence booster result. Boniface recovered from the last lap incident with Hurst ending up in fourth as Craig Greenwood finished a close fifth in a race to the line with Blake Evans. Kyan Davie finished seventh while Andrew Tierney finished eighth, Hurst found himself a DNF.
Current national champion, Callum Crawley reflected on another successful weekend in the Manawatu after walking away with the clean sweep. “Well it’s been another beautiful weekend here in the Manawatu at the mighty Manfeild Circuit de Amon, good to come away with 3 chocolate fishes at the end of the day. Very happy.”
Words and Photo: Tayler Burke