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Foster wins opening race at Manfeild Super Sprint round

Brit Louis Foster shook the effects of jetlag to take a commanding first race win in the wet at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon today.

The afternoon 22-lap race is the first of three for the Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship (CTFROC) category – and marks the mid-point of the five in five weekends of competition.

Headlining the 2023 Super Sprint MotorSport New Zealand Championship season, the Toyota FT-60 cars bring international drivers back to the region – in front of a stoic yet diminished crowd.

Starting from pole position and with better drive off the line, 17-year-old Charlie Wurz led the field into the first turn and held the advantage for the first few laps. Foster worked at filling the mirrors of Wurz and repeatedly tested for an open door – eventually making a move to pass, before relinquishing the position.

A subsequent move to run down the inside of Wurz into turn one paid off – and Foster drove away into clean air and on to the chequered flag by a margin of 4.522 seconds. A time penalty was later applied to Wurz, dropping him from second to fifth, on appeal of the original penalty. Hedge finished second with Jacob Abel third.

Conditions took their toll on Kiwi Liam Sceats who left the track at turn one, and was later followed by Ireland’s Adam Fitzgerald. Both invoked a safety car period while their cars were retrieved. The wet caught out multiple others – with momentary off-track excursions.

The 19-year-old Foster was a late entry to the weekend – only recently arriving into the country and missed the opening practice session.

“It was a good race. I knew from lap 1-2 that we had a decent pace so was just a case of getting past cleanly. Then it was a case of head-down get away,” said Foster – who also set the fastest lap time during the race.

“It was pretty wet out there – although it dried toward the end the tyres started to go off toward the end.”

Current series leader Wurz conceded he didn’t have the car speed to win: “That was a difficult race. I tried to hold him off (Foster) but struggled a bit for pace compared to qualifying. A bit of hard work tonight and we will see what we can do tomorrow.”

For Hedge, he said it was a case of following the flashing red light in front and hope for the best.

Also sharing the weekend are three support categories: The HVRA Historic Saloons, Hankook MX5 Cup cars and the Chocolate Fish Saloon series. Each had entry numbers reduced overnight – with Auckland’s weather requiring some to make late changes to their travel schedule.

While rain is again forecast for the Sunday the prediction isn’t likely to alter the race schedule. Each of the categories will have two races to round out the weekend’s competition.

Race coverage will be aired live on Sky Sport 5, Fox Sports Australia, and Pasifika TV. TV3 will again show the race action from 1pm Sunday.

At 1:30pm two of the CTFROC drivers along with four guest drivers will contest a slalom challenge – using two of the Toyota Gazoo Racing road cars.

Tickets are available at the gate or can be purchased online.


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