NZ F1600: Hedge Heading for Title after Taupo Perfection
 February 4, 2018| 
  • Feeder Series
#22 Robert Toshach and #47 Matt Butchart NZ F1600 Taupo Feb2018 (1200x548)
TAUPO, New Zealand – Callum Hedge has made a clean sweep at the penultimate round of the New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship held at the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo. Having qualified fastest on Saturday morning, the Auckland teenager went on to win all four races, leading from start to finish in each. He has now increased his lead over Auckland rival Josh Bethune to 23 points with the final round this coming weekend at the NZ Grand Prix meeting at Manfeild Park, Feilding.

“I managed to get the clean sweep,” commented Hedge (Mygale). “It is never easy but having good prior lap knowledge at Taupo certainly helped today.”

Second in all four races was rival Josh Bethune who was debuting a brand new 2017 Ray GR17 car.

“It was a real challenge with the new car and on a new track,” commented Bethune. “We have to ‘learn’ the car. We have only recently got hold of it and haven’t had any testing. It’s quite different to the Mygale and hopefully we can learn from this weekend.”

Bethune and his team have been successful in appealing a disqualification for a technical infringement from the third race of the third round at Teretonga in January. This resulted in Bethune being just one point behind Hedge heading into the Taupo round.

Hard work and consistent finishing throughout the championship has seen Kurt Peterson (Van Diemen Stealth) move into third overall. Two third placings and two fourths over the weekend has moved him ahead of Robert Toshach (Spectrum #22, pictured above leading Matt Butchart), fourth, who also leads Class 2 from Southland’s Noel Atley (Swift). Cantabrian Jack Noble-Adams traded places with Peterson, also finishing with two thirds and two fourths for the round.

Having completed the first three rounds of the championship in the South Island, Southland’s Jordan Michels and Ethan Anderson along with Christchurch’s Bailey Paterson elected not to travel north to compete, but rather focus on the final South Island Formula 1600 Championship round in March. This decision has seen them drop down the points table.

Nelson’s Matt Butchart (Van Diemen RF88) leads Class 3 and has a strong chance of moving up to fifth overall. The South Island Formula 1600 Scholarship winner missed qualifying due to a gearbox issue. Starting from the rear of the grid in race one, he was able to finish seventh just behind Class 3 rival Joseph Oliver (Crossle). Oliver retired from race two with a coil terminal breaking but finished ahead of Butchart in the final feature race.

Drivers and teams have less than a week before competing at the final round of the 2017/18 national championship in support of the NZ Grand Prix meeting at Manfeild: Circuit Chris Amon. With a maximum of 162 points on offer, the advantage may be with Hedge but should he falter Bethune will be there to make the most of any opportunity.

Photo credit: Geoff Ridder
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