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Hedge wins first Taupo race – takes championship lead

Auckland’s Callum Hedge turned pole position into a race win after a chequered start to the weekend’s final round of the 2023 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Champion at Taupō’s Motorsport Park.

Second was Brit Louis Foster with Netherland’s based Laurens van Hoepen third.

The win and fifth place finish by Austrian Charlie Wurz, reverses the overall championship standings. Hedge has re-taken the lead from Wurz with the next race a reverse top-eight grid. That puts Hedge in eighth on the grid, behind Wurz.

“It was a hard race. It was hard for Louis to overtake – even though he might have been a little bit quicker than me. The dirty air makes it impossible to pass so it’s a credit to him – he’s a great driver and cool to be racing with people like him and to put one on him,” said Hedge.

“A big thanks to the M2 (team) guys who made it possible.”

A mid-pack incident at the first turn resulted in Jacob Abel being turned into the path of the following cars. Kiwi’s James Penrose and Breanna Morris collided with the stranded Abel – resulting in all three having to be removed from the track.

At the restart Hedge was able to maintain his opening lap lead position – despite numerous attempts by Foster to fox him into an undertake manoeuvre.

Traditionally a day for qualifying and an opening race, the NAPA Formula Ford series had a day of three races. Alex Crosbie took all three wins.

Other race categories included Hi Q Formula First, BMW Race Driver Series, Mazda Racing and the RYCO 24.7 V8 Utes.

It was a son/father first and second in the ute category – the opening race for their 2023 championship season. Auckland’s Brad Kroef led home dad Greg with Stuart Monteith in third.

All eyes are now on the sky – with Civil Defence issuing a statement for the venue to prepare for high winds overnight and into Sunday, as Cyclone Gabriel bears down on the country.

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