After finishing runner-up for the past two seasons Bramwell King has claimed his maiden Hi-Q Components NZ Formula First Championship after an intensely close seasons racing. The 21-year-old headed into the weekend third in the points, 17 points from the lead but managed it into a championship win by 11 points over Matt Podjursky.
Chris Symon continued his streak of speed at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, claiming pole position ahead of Podjursky and King. Sitting in second in the championship at the time, Arran Crighton was unable to fire and set just the sixth fastest time.
Symon quickly asserted his dominance in the opening race, jumping brilliantly off pole to lead into and out of turn one. Podjursky followed closely behind with King not far from him. Podjursky fell victim to a move by King at the chase, dropping the championship leader to third.
Further down the field, Crighton struggled to get by Reece Hendl-Cox, the former sat in sixth for the majority of the race. Rookie Champion elect Hendl-Cox then started a charge on lap three, moving by Podjursky to take fourth before taking Brody McConkey to step onto the podium.
A potentially championship changing moment occurred when Podjursky, Hendl-Cox and McConkey all tried to vie for the same piece of real estate going into the chase. Podjursky lucked out and ended up on the inside grass. Upon rejoining he got by McConkey, slotting into fourth.
McConkey’s strong return to the class was spoiled when a gearbox issue wouldn’t allow him into third gear, slowing his #3 machine down and allowing both championship contenders Podjursky and Crighton through to close up the points gap to King.
Symon comfortably took the win over King and Hendl-Cox while Podjursky and Crighton took fourth and fifth respectively. The gap between the top three shrunk to just seven points, with Podjursky doubling his lead to four points while King moved up to second.
Race two proved crucial in the title fight, with King taking a four-point lead while Crighton fell too far back to realistically contest to be the champion.
Chris Symon used his front row start to lead through the first corner while Podjursky ran around the outside of McConkey to move into second. King, also getting by McConkey quickly, then got under Podjursky to take second at turn seven.
King soon took the lead after getting past Symon at the final corner after a great run through the chase. Symon then lost a further place when Podjursky pulled off a tight manoeuvre through the fast sweeping turn nine, dubbed ‘A1’.
Symon’s chances of winning were taken away from him on the second lap when he and the wildcard entry of McConkey came together in a racing incident. Symon spun down to the back of the top ten during the incident, leaving King with a huge lead. Symon later recovered to fifth.
King’s lead was quickly diminished by Podjursky, with the latter taking the lead at the end of lap three. Podjursky then made himself a gap before the King closed back up. The final two laps of the race saw the pair battle for sheep stations, Podjursky led onto the back straight but a superbly timed draft by King saw him lead Podjursky into the chase and across the line.
Just as the cars were released for the final race of the season the rain came down, soaking the track with few prepared for the conditions. However, the leaders were all in the same boat, all running a dry setup.
Podjursky jumped from the front row to lead Symon and King into, through and out of turn one while Dylan Smith got a blinder off the line and emerged in fourth out of the first corner.
Symon quickly moved his way into the lead while Callum Crawley took Smith’s fourth spot. Crawley was then involved in an incident with Crighton, which knocked the championship hopeful out of contention and forcing him to settle for third in the points.
King then made the decisive move of the championship, getting by Podjursky to confirm the tittle. Podjursky was no match for him, as King pulled a comfortable gap giving him the championship.
King’s second gave him the championship with Podjursky second. Arran Crighton finished third after leading the majority of the championship. Reece Hendl-Cox finished 2016/17 Rookie Champion while the sunset driver award went to Ron Carter.