Amy Smith has won the 2018 Hi-Q Components NZ Formula First One-Hour race at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon after late race charge.
The race is traditionally started with a staggered grid with those cars who finished higher in the championship starting down the rear of the grid with a time delay. Smith started in the second to last group, 60s after the first drop of the flag.
A safety car half-way through the race, caused by a stranded Jared Nicholson, prompted the first cycle of pit stops and bunched the field back up again leaving them to battle wheel to wheel upon the restart. During the safety car Sabre Motorsport’s strategy operations manager, Jonathan Morton, made the race-winning call to pit Alex Hawley twice under safety car to complete both his compulsory stops.
The strategic play left Hawley in fourth in the queue, but crucially everyone in front of him still had one more pitstop to complete and unlike the lightning fast refueling of Sheridan Bonner on Hawley’s car, those stops would take longer than 3.89s. Once those 3 had done their final stops Hawley was left with a mammoth lead over Amy Smith and Liam Foster.
One other driver sitting in a prime position was Taylor Hurst until an unfortunate drive-through penalty for a refueling infringement (which he was later cleared of) robbed him of any chance at a good result.
The final quarter of the race had everyone on their feet as Smith was closing the gap to Hawley at an astonishing rate. Smith’s pace would prove too much for Hawley as he surrendered the position on the second to last lap. Foster too would come close to getting by Hawley but would settle for a close third.