Kiwi Callum Hedge won today’s opening race of the Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania championship – the first round for 2023 of the Super Sprint MotorSport New Zealand Championship.
Held at the central Otago location of Highlands Motorsport Park, the Toyota FT-60 wings and slicks category headlines the series.
Starting from pole, Auckland’s Hedge got a clean start to lead the 13-car field through the complex turns of Highlands. A safety car period late in the 18-lap race resulted in the remaining cars cruising to the chequered flag. Second was Austrian Charlie Wurz with US based David Morales third.
“It’s been a really cool day,” said a measured Hedge of his race win. “Yesterday’s practice showed that it was early days. This morning in the qualifying session we put it all together – so we know exactly what the car can do. Now we look forward to replicating the result again tomorrow.
Bathing in true Central Otago summer weather, the day’s racing was an idyllic setting for trackside spectators to relax at the tourist focussed location.
Opening the afternoon race action was the Toyota 86 category of 18 cars. A hefty impact with the safety wall by Harry Townshed at the opening turn resulted in Saxon Sheehan being caught in the melee. Both cars were significantly damaged. Following a full restart and with seven laps remaining, Auckland’s Brock Gilchrist claimed victory over Clay Osborne by a margin of 0.639 seconds. Justin Allen finished third.
In the Golden Homes GT New Zealand opening race, it was an hour-long treat of exotic cars duelling for track position as the speed variance created plenty of overtaking action.
Queenstown based New Caledonian Heremana Malmezac and Kiwi Jono Lester took a commanding victory in the Porsche 991 Manthey Racing Cup Car over fellow Kiwi Marco Giltrap in a Porsche 991 Cup Car. Third was team-mate to the winning duo, Francois Beziac in a second Porsche 991 Manthey Racing Cup Car.
The race finished with 22 of the 23 starters getting to the chequered flag.
Adding to the spectacle, 28 cars finished both of today’s 10-lap Pirelli Porsche races. South Island based Garry Derrick took a commanding 12sec win in the opening race over North Island rival Richard Scoullar, with Chris Nicholas in third.
The afternoon 10-lap race saw Scoullar take the chequered flag, followed 11.145sec later by Tony Austin with Garry Derrick in third.
Preceding Sunday’s race action is an open track walk – where spectators can walk/ride the entire track from 8am. Each category will then have a further two races – to determine the respective round winners.
The day will again be televised live in New Zealand on Sky Sport five, in Australia on Fox Sports and across the Pacific via the Pasifika TV service. TV3 will air the afternoon race programme as part of CRC Motorsport.