New Zealand’s premier motorsport event the New Zealand Grand Prix took place over the weekend and the HiQ Formula First Championship put one on of the best shows for the stellar crowd.
The stature of the New Zealand Grand Prix event brought in the wildcard entries of Ryan Hellier, Kyle George and David Russell.
The wildcard entry of Ryan Hellier was straight on the pace as he topped the opening practice session on Friday. It was the same story again in Practice 2 with Hellier the fastest followed by Bramwell King and Cameron Dance. Amy Smith’s engine issues had been solved and she set the fifth fastest time.
Liam Lawson was uncharacteristically off the pace during the two sessions which was put down to the engine not operating at it peak, this prompted an engine change by the Sabre Motorsport crew later that afternoon in an attempt to improve the SpeedSport Scholarship winners pace.
In Qualifying Ryan Hellier was the early pace setter ahead of Liam Lawson. Lawson’s engine change appeared to have solved the problem he encountered on Friday.
Michael Shepherd was not one to be left out of the equation though as he jumped into second just three tenths off Hellier.
Brody McConkey, another one who appeared to have little pace yesterday, put in a good enough time to put him off third for opening race.
A last lap run by Bramwell King bumped him up to fourth, demoting Lawson to fifth while Cameron Dance continued his improved pace from Friday setting a time only 0.087s off that of his team mate which put him in sixth.
Chris Symon ran into trouble on his out lap as his gear rod came off and left him stuck in neutral. As he did not set a time he had his work cut out for him as he would start of last place.
Saturdays Race one saw a four way battle for the lead with Hellier, King, Shepherd and McConkey all wanting a top step on the podium.
Further back Liam Lawson, Cameron Dance, Chris Symon and Arran Crighton also kept the crowd entrained as they fought after a top five finish.
In Race two the somewhat familiar sight of Hellier leading returned as he battled with King, McConkey and Shepherd for the win.
After a less than ideal start by Liam Lawson the SpeedSport Scholarship winner was set to the back end of the field, making his job much harder. Although the rookie put the pedal to the metal as he climbed his way through the field to be running in the battle for fifth when he and Bob Dillow came together. The collision caused a puncture on Lawson’s car and forced him to the pits.
Hellier would again prove fastest as he took the race over King, McConkey and Shepherd. The remaining top five contestants then battled it out for the remaining four laps to find Chris Symon was the one who played his cards right to get the position ahead of Crighton, Dance and George. Liam Lawson’s damage mean’t he did not finish.
The final race of the weekend was actioned packed as five drivers fought for the race win glory!
Ryan Hellier took the early lead with King, Shepherd and McConkey not far behind and Chris Symon in hot pursuit. Further back Arran Crighton, Liam Lawson and Cameron Dance set about claiming sixth place for their own.
The four way fight for the win had increased to five as Chris Symon caught the battle pack and put in his bid for Grand Prix glory. The second battle pack had also gained a contender with Kyle George joining the top six battle.
While Hellier had the lead taken from him briefly various time he was in front when it mattered as he came out of the final corner clear of his competitors and took the win which gave him a complete clean sweep from topping every session from Practice one to the final race. Series leader Michael Shepherd crossed the line second with Bramwell King third, Brody McConkey fourth and Chris Symon fifth.
The battle for six intensified as Liam Lawson made a bold move on the final turn to place himself in front of Arran Crighton, however the Auckland teen got unstuck on exit and lost control launching over the kerb and entering the tyre barrier at a quick speed. Thankfully Lawson got out of the car uninjured with just a slightly sore back and neck.
Crighton was unaffected by the incident and finished sixth ahead of Kyle George and Cameron Dance.
The top three in the Championship remained unchanged with Shepherd extending his lead over King and McConkey. Liam Lawson’s double DNF allowed Arran Crighton to slot into the top five just 25 points ahead of Lawson. Alex Hawley drops out of the top 10 as Liam Foster and Dave Scammell climb into 10th and 11th respectively.