Symon gets last laugh as Shepherd claims title

The final round of the 2015/16 HiQ NZ Formula First Championship was contested over the weekend at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park. The weekend would deliver some of the best racing of the season as it was all or nothing approach for many drivers wanting to prove themselves.

The first wet race of the season that would great us on Saturday was enough to put everyone on edge, however Chris Symon, Liam Lawson and Cameron Dance added to it as they touched wheels off the line and down into turn one.

Michael Shepherd put himself well in front of the pack after just one lap as McConkey fell off the back of King in second. Matt Podjursky lost a position off the line after starting a career best third. Liam Lawson was next in the queue as he sat on his own between Podjursky and the battle pack of Chris Symon, Cameron Dance and Arran Crighton.

Alex Hawley qualified a personal best eighth this morning and after dropping a few positions at the start he stormed his way through to ninth and looked to get back a top eight finish however he spun and dropped back to finish tenth. A consolation for the young driver was setting the fastest time out of the Sabre Motorsport garage and the sixth fastest of the whole field.

Michael Shepherd would hold on to win the opening race at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park by a convincing margin over Bramwell King and Brody McConkey. Matt Podjursky would hold on to fourth as Liam Lawson returned to the top five. Chris Symon pulled away from Crighton and Dance to finish sixth. While Dance was hot on the tail of Crighton, the latter’s defence proved too much for the rookie as the pair finished seventh and eighth.

Shepherds win confirmed his record breaking seventh HiQ Formula First NZ Championship. The rookie title was still up for grabs after Saturdays race, however Lawson extended his lead to such a gap that he only had to finish one race the following day.

The intentions were clear at the start Sundays first race as McConkey grabbed the lead off Shepherd out of turn one. King then took the lead by the end of the lap as Podjursky returned to fourth.

Arran Crighton locked up at turn seven on the second lap which put him off the road, allowing Lawson to pass him to get into fifth place.

Crighton wouldn’t be the only to lock up at turn seven as King would lock up even worse the following lap and drift into the gravel taking him out of the running for the win. Podjursky moved up to second as a result of the incident.

Podjursky would be shuffled back to fourth after a charging Chris Symon made his way through the pack and into the lead.

Chris Symon then returned to the top step of the podium, taking the second race. Brody McConkey claimed second with now series champ Michael Shepherd third. Liam Lawson recorded another top five finish which cemented his Rookie of the Year title.

In the final race of the season in which no one could predict what would happen next Chris Symon lead the field into turn one as Liam Lawson and Dave Scammell came together with both parties lucky to escape with no damage.

Lawson ran into trouble again at the first turn on the following lap as the teen locked up and dropped a spot to Arran Crighton.

As the leading four of McConkey, Symon, King and Shepherd went about deciding on who would win, Lawson had started a huge charge to come from eight up to fifth.

Lawson’s name would be another talking point on the last lap as he started to produce smoke out the back of his car as a result of an oil leak. Upon the corner onto the back straight he would drop even more oil, which caused Dave Scammell and Matt Podjursky to spin, dropping to the back of the field.

Chris Symon grabbed the lead on the final lap and would hold onto it to win the race with Brody McConkey continuing his strong run finishing second with Bramwell King third. Series champ Michael Shepherd would fall off the back of the top three to finish fourth.

The final championship standings obviously see Michael Shepherd on top with Bramwell King second and Brody McConkey third. Chris Symon ended the season fourth with Arran Crighton fifth. Liam Lawson narrowly misses out on fifth as the Pukekohe teen wins the Rookie of the Year title and finishes sixth overall. Cameron Dance, Matt Podjursky, Bob Dillow and Dave Scammell round out the top ten.

While the Championship is over, the Formula First Action is not as the series heads to Manfeild for the annual one hour race on May 7. For those interested in racing in Formula First next season we have a ‘Have a Go’ day on May 1 at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, for just $99 you can get behind the wheel of a Formula First race car with a Helmet and Suit provided.

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