The 67th New Zealand Grand Prix was won by 17-year-old Dutch sensation Laurens van Hoepen at Hampton Downs today.
The feature race for the weekend’s fourth round of the Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship – run as part of the 2023 Super Sprint MotorSport New Zealand Championship, was a clean lights-to-flag event.
Starting from pole position, van Hoepen was overtaken at the first turn by Brit Louis Foster. On the next lap van Hoepen made an aggressive move to re-take the position. He held on for the remaining 27 laps and re-lowered the track lap record in a Toyota FT-60 to 1m30.061.
“I’m really really happy. Winning a Grand Prix is amazing – this is my first and hopefully one of many. The start was a bit difficult but after I got that done it was get to the lead and keep it,” said the latest Grand Prix winner van Hoepen – who also received a $5,000 payday cheque.
“I think I did really well – almost all the laps were with in 2/10sec so I was pushing the whole time until the end.”
Second was Foster with Kiwi Callum Hedge third.
In idyllic summer conditions for the entire day, the field of 19 cars counted down the laps with the occasional change of position. All starters made it to the chequered flag without a break to the racing.
Finishing in seventh Wurz now has a ten point lead over Hedge in the CTFROC standings.
The pre-cursor 20-lap race started with Charlie Wurz on pole and race one winner Kaleb Ngatoa back in eighth. It was heartbreak for overnight series leader Callum Hedge, who was unable to take the start after an electrical failure stopped him on the way to the grid. Wurz managed to stay ahead of the chasing field despite continual pressure from second placed Jacob Abel.
It was another winning weekend for Matakana’s Brock Gilchrist with three from three race wins in the Toyota 86 Championship – the 19-year-old extending his lead in the driver standings.
Auckland’s Luke Manson won the morning’s hour-long Golden Homes race in the Porsche 991.2 with Wayne Leach second in the Ferrari 488. In the afternoon race Auckland’s Gene Rollinson took a clean win from Leach, who started on pole.
A thrilling Central Muscle Car final and handicapped race, only just went the way of Mark Holland with Angus Fogg finishing second and taking the weekend honours.
Greg Murphy’s best result was a third in the NAPA Formula Ford racing – highlighted by multiple wheel-to-wheel overtaking moves during the weekend.
Other racing included the Hi Q Formula First and TradeZone GTRNZ fields.
Teams now prepare for the shift to the Taupo Motorsport Park for the title deciding round of the Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship. The fifth of five consecutive weekends runs 10-12 February 2023 – out of eight for the 2023 Super Sprint MotorSport New Zealand Championship season.
The three-race weekend is a last chance for the championship chasers to earn Super Licence points toward their next career step.
Also racing are the RYCO 24.7 V8 Utes, BMW Race Driver Series, NAPA Formula Ford, Hi Q Formula First and Mazda Racing.
Tickets can be pre-purchased online or at the gate.