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Liam Sceats wins TQF Shoot-out

Auckland teenager Liam Sceats outshone two other finalists to win $70,000 from the Tony Quinn Foundation towards next year's Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship, New Zealand's international single-seater racing series in identical Toyota-powered cars.

"Over the moon is an understatement. It's just good to get over the line. Last year we fell short and I was confident coming into today that I could get myself over the line and I managed to do that," said Sceats after being announced the winner.

Since making his debut in the series last season and being a finalist in the last TQF shoot-out, Sceats has been busy developing his craft in Japan and also testing USF Pro 2000 in America and says the extra experience, he believes, helped him win the TQF prize.

"I think with experience I've become closer to a more complete driver."

Sceats currently lies second in the Japanese Formula Regional Championship with one round remaining, but despite being race fit ahead of the TQF shoot-out he arrived for the final at Hampton Downs less than fully physically fit.

"I woke up yesterday morning with a fever and I still had it today and that played a big part in my mind. I did feel that held me back a little bit but Jacob and Alex did an awesome job from what I could see on the timesheet and made it very close."

"I was feeling good in the car and confident in my ability. I was here last Friday with Jacob doing laps so I definitely wasn't feeling any rust while I was driving out there."

The other two finalists were Jacob Douglas, also 18, from Christchurch and Invercargill16-year-old Alex Crosbie. Douglas has been racing overseas in America for the past two years and like Sceats, tested recently for the USF Pro 2000 series. Crosbie is a double NZ Formula Ford champion.

Sceats is the second TQF CTFROC winner and this year's shoot-out was the closest competition yet.

After each driver had 10 laps of the Hampton Downs circuit to familiarise themselves with the car and the conditions, the three finalists were put to the test over a qualifying simulation session in the Toyota FT-60 and then assessed over a 15-lap mock race.

"When we added up the cumulative times for the race, Liam beat Jacob by about one-and-a-half car lengths. And in the qualifying they were both within a tenth [of-a-second] of each other," said TQF Trustee Steve Horne, a former IndyCar team owner. "It was very hard to pick a winner."

Aside from the on-track driving test the finalists were also tested on the engineering set-up for the car and their commercial understanding of the sport.

"They expressed their understandings in slightly different ways," added Horner. "Both Liam and Jacob had excellent feedback and a good understanding of the commercial side of the business."

While the extra racing experience Sceats and Douglas had over Crosbie, Horne was very impressed with the Southlander's performance.

"Personally Alex surprised me. When he first jumped into the car he was a little tentative but by the end of his run he was right there. He was about three-tenths off in qualifying but for his age and what he's done, his effort was very good. I predict a bright future for Alex."

Inaugural TQF CTFROC winner Callum Hedge is currently leading two championships across two different continents. He is successfully racing in Porsche Carrera Cup in Australia and will have his final race in the Formula Regional USA championship this weekend.

Meanwhile, Sceats will head to Sportsland Sugo in Japan in three weeks time for the final three races of their regional Formula 3 series on November 25-26.


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