Current NAPA Auto Parts New Zealand Formula Ford champion, Alex Crosbie has gained a narrow lead after the opening round at Hampton Downs over the weekend in support of the NZ Grand Prix meeting. One-point separates the Southlander from Dylan Grant while Daniel Brown sits just six-points further back followed by Mason Potter, Blake Dowdall and Sebastian Manson.

With three different winners at the meeting, the contest was mostly between Crosbie (Ray GR21) and Grant (Van Diemen RF03) over the three races. After setting fastest lap in qualifying and winning the Hampton Downs New Zealand Racing Academy $1,0101.10 cash prize, Grant narrowly won the opening race from Crosbie with Blake Knowles (Van Diemen RF05) third and Greg Murphy (Van Diemen RF92) fourth. 

Crosbie bounced back winning a hard fought close second race on Sunday morning. At this stage it looked like the weekend would be a duel between the two with Grant finishing second ahead of Blake Dowdall (Spectrum 015), Zach Blincoe (Mygale SJ07), Murphy and Brown(Ray GR21).  

The third race proved as much with Crosbie leading every lap until the two had a coming together on the final lap, sending them both back down the field and allowing Zach Blincoe to cross the line first ahead of Dowdall, Murphy, Potter (Spectrum 015) and Kyan Davie(Spectrum 015). Blincoe was later disqualified due to a technical infringement handing the win and the Morrie Smith Memorial Trophy to Dowdall.

“It was going well until the last lap when I got hit from behind,” commented Crosbie. “It’s been pretty close racing from all the top cars. The impact bent the rear suspension arms but I managed to get it home for some points.”

Crosbie salvaged 13th while Grant received a 10-second penalty dropping him down to 16th.

“It’s been close racing all weekend,” said Grant. “It looks like it will be a tough season. There wasn’t enough room in that last race so it’s a pity for the both of us.”

Ex Supercars and Bathurst champion Greg Murphy (Shane Drake’s Van Diemen RF92) emerged as the winner of the meeting with 2x fourth and second placings.

“I’ve had a lot of fun this weekend,” said Murphy. “There was no pressure on me so it is pure fun and enjoyment although I have felt every bump and knock this weekend.”

The meeting also doubled as the fifth of seven 2022/23 Giltrap Group North Island Formula Ford Series. Liam Sceats still holds a narrow 29-point lead over Dowdall, Potter and Grant. With his non-entry at the round as well as next weekend’s sixth round at Taupo, the race is on between the latter three for the overall lead.

The NAPA Auto Parts $230 trade voucher for the North Island Series ‘Driver of the Day’ went to Daniel Brown.

The 2023 NZ Formula Ford Championship includes two North and two South Island rounds with the Morrie Smith Memorial Trophy up for grabs at the final race of the first round, the Ron frost Memorial Trophy to be contested at the final race of Round 2 and the Stephen Gillard Memorial Trophy for the highest placed Rookie at the end of the championship.

The Giltrap Group North Island Formula Ford Series is also supported by Yokohama, the Tony Quinn Foundation and NAPA Auto Parts.

Caption: Formula Ford field at Hampton Downs

Photo Credit: Geoff Ridder