Championship Wide Open After Ribarits Wins
 October 1, 2018| 
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COWES, Vic., Australia – Variable weather at Phillip Island helped set the stage for a thrilling penultimate round of the 2018 Australian Formula Ford Championship. Sonic Motor Racing Services driver Hamish Ribarits claimed his second round win of the season, ahead of BF Racing's Nathan Herne and privateer Zac Soutar.

On Saturday, the Mildura-based teenager started Race One from pole position, equaling his team-mate Hunter McElrea with three pole positions in 2018. McElrea was quick to strike back, winning Race One to take his 12th win for the year. Ribarits had to fight it out in a typical Formula Ford pack, eventually crossing the line in fourth position behind McElrea, Soutar and Herne.

McElrea's title chances took a sudden dive after a collision during the opening lap of Race Two resulted in the Eximm Mygale damaged and unable to continue. After a safety car period, Ribarits, Herne and Soutar battled for the win. On the final lap, Ribarits and Herne ran to the chequered flag side by side, with Herne crossing the line just two hundredths of a second behind Ribarits. Soutar followed the duo by a mere three tenths.

Race Three was one of the best races of the year, with clean racing and plenty of action throughout the field. Ribarits and Herne enjoyed another sprint to the finish line, with the Sonic driver crossing the line two tenths of a second ahead of the BF Racing driver. Zac Soutar had a race-long slip streaming exchange with Tom Sargent, eventually getting the better of him to take third.

“I’m stoked, the team at Sonic Motor Racing Services gave me a great car all weekend. The team worked really hard as always and provided me a car that could deliver a win,” said Ribarits.

“The racing was really close within the field and the tow came into play massively, as expected, and I enjoyed some awesome battles all weekend.”

This round win has tightened the points gap between Sonic Motor Racing Services team-mates McElrea and Ribarits, with the Mildura-based driver now sitting just 11 points adrift of the current championship leader with just a single round remaining in the 2018 season.

“I’m not trying to think about the championship at this stage, there’s still another round to go, but the championship is certainly closing in and we’ve just to keep pushing and collecting good points,” said round winner, Ribarits.

CHE Racing driver Tom Sargent received the CHI Hard Charger Award for demonstrating front-running pace at only his first appearance at Phillip Island. Sargent qualified 13th on Saturday and was battling with Soutar for a podium finish in Race Three.

Ribarits and Herne received the Shell V-Power Awards for the weekend. This was Herne's first podium at National level, an additional celebration for the Lismore local, who was also crowned 2018 Victorian Formula Ford Champion.

“It’s been a great weekend to take away both my first national round podium and the Victorian state championship,” said Herne at the end of the weekend.

“We managed to take home second for the round after qualifying tenth, and just got pipped at the line for the win in both race two and three after some tough racing. Unfortunately, we couldn’t come out with the round win but we’ll come back at Sydney and go for it again.”

The 2018 Australian Formula Ford Championship finale will be held at Sydney Motorsport Park on October 26-28.

2018 Australian Formula Ford Championship Standings (Top 10)
1. Hunter McElrea , 278;
2. Hamish Ribarits, 267;
3. Zac Soutar, 209;
4. Nathan Herne, 186;
5. Liam McLellan, 158;
6. Lachlan Mineef, 142;
7. Angelo Mouzouris, 127;
8. Cody Donald, 116;
9. Cameron Shields, 108;
10. Bart Horsten, 101;

About the Australian Formula Ford Championship:
Originating in the UK in 1967, Formula Ford is an entry-level open-wheel formula, widely regarded as the first major stepping stone into car racing from karting. Held annually since 1970, the Australian Formula Ford Championship has been the category for young, aspiring racing drivers to demonstrate their ability and has been renowned for producing future champions in top-tier motor racing categories in Australia and globally.

To continue fostering young talent, the Australian Formula Ford Championship formed an alliance with Andersen Promotions, promotor of the Mazda 'Road to Indy' driver development ladder. The 2018 Australian Formula Ford Champion will earn a golden ticket to enter the annual Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship Shootout, providing the winner a US$200,000 scholarship to race in the USF2000 Series the following season and a defined pathway to the Verizon Indycar Series.

This partnership provides the groundwork to reach the Indianapolis 500, the world’s highest-attended one-day sporting event. The race was won in 2018 by Will Power - a graduate of Australian Formula Ford.

If you would like to get involved in Australian Formula Ford or need further info about our category, visit our website []
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