Four Drivers Likely to Fight for NZF1600 Title
 November 9, 2016| 
  • Feeder Series
TIMARU, New Zealand – Timaru International Raceway hosts the opening round of the 2016/2017 New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship this weekend and four drivers have already given notice that they will be difficult to beat. The opening round also doubles as the second round of the South Island Formula 1600 Championship.

Heading into the NZF1600 opener, Christchurch’s Michael Collins is regarded as the favourite after winning all three races at the first SIF1600 round held at his home track at Ruapuna in October. Hot on his heels are two Southland drivers, Ethan Anderson and Jordan Michels who finished second and third at Ruapuna. The fourth and relatively unknown driver is rookie Liam Lawson from Pukekohe.

Lawson put his car on pole position at Ruapuna after setting the fastest time in qualifying but subsequently retired from the round with engine trouble in the opening laps of the first race. It was the first time on the South Island track for the 14-year-old who is campaigning in the ex-Michael Scott national title winning Mygale car from last season.

However, it is Collins that has the most experience of the four, having previously won two SIF1600 titles and successfully campaigned in a number of national championships.

“After the Ruapuna round we now know that we have some speed to compete with the top guys,” commented Collins. “Ethan (Anderson), Jordan (Michels) and Liam (Lawson) are the three guys that will be pretty quick at Timaru. Liam certainly showed that he will be fast this year.”

Approximately 20 cars are expected to take to the grid, with all entries able to contest for NZF1600 points. For the second year running on offer for the winner of the national title will be the opportunity to attend an international ‘shoot-out’ to determine who wins a $US200K fully supported drive in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in 2018. Last year’s winner, Canterbury student Michael Scott, will head to the U.S. in December to take part in the Mazda Road to Indy $200K USF2000 Scholarship Shoot-out.

While Lawson has signalled his intention to compete for the national title, Collins is keeping his options open.

“We’ll make a decision later in the season,” Collins commented. “With the first three rounds in the South Island we can decide about heading north for the remaining two later, dependent on how we are placed in the championship.”

Saturday will see three classes of modern to historic Formula 1600 single seaters competing in three races at the South Canterbury Car Club meeting. Returning to the series are national class champions Anna Collins (Class 2) and Roger McKenzie (Class 3). Brother to Michael, Anna Collins has moved up to a newer Class 1 car while Roger McKenzie is expected to defend his Class 3 title.

2016/17 NZ Formula 1600 Championship Calendar

1     12 November 2016, Timaru International Motor Raceway
2     12-15 January 2017, Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Christchurch
3     19-22 January 2017, Teretonga Park, Invercargill
4     2-5 February 2017, Taupo Motorsport Park
5     9-12 February 2017, Manfeild Circuit, Manawatu

Attached image, please credit Media 77 Photography.
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