Wurz wins Toyota Championship at Taupo
Austrian Charlie Wurz sealed the 2023 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania (CTFROC) Championship at Taupō’s Motorsport Park by winning the weekend’s final race.
The fifth consecutive weekend of Super Sprint MotorSport New Zealand championship racing wrapped up ahead of the arrival of cyclone Gabriel, with three races to decide the overall champion.
Wurz had Sunday’s two races to reverse the championship leading position held by Kiwi Callum Hedge.
The opening Sunday race became a historic moment when Chloe Chambers became the first woman to win a race in the CTFROC, taking a lights to flag victory. The 18-year-old got a superb start to lead the field comfortably to the first turn and staved off the early moves of second placed Kaleb Ngatoa who attempted a challenge for the lead. Stretching out of reach by the chasing pack, she took the win 1.582sec ahead of Ngatoa with Charlie Wurz in third. That result returned Wurz to the top of the championship standings for the afternoon’s finale.
Starting from pole position, 17-year-old Wurz led the field to the first turn. Early action put pressure on the leader as Laurens van Hoepen filled the mirrors of Wurz. It was further back in the field where eyes were on the only other title contender - Callum Hedge. Needing to finish ahead of Wurz, the Kiwi could only hope for a change in race conditions so he could apply a new strategy. As the weather started to turn and light rain began to change the track conditions a brief safety car period regrouped the field. A charging James Penrose jumped from 12th to sneak past Hedge and then into third position.
As the chequered flag dropped it was Wurz who claimed the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy for the race win, the 2023 CTFROC title and 18 Super Licence points. Laurens van Hoepen finished second with Christchurch’s James Penrose third.
Charlie Wurz: “I can’t feel any better. The race was the most difficult race to win because it started raining and I was afraid of going off but I had to keep Laurens behind. Then I got a bit of a gap so could relax a for bit but the safety car came out and I thought oh no. At the restart it was all okay – so I am so happy to win in the end.”
Laurens van Hoepen: “Really challenging conditions. We went quite high with the tyre pressure to try something in the beginning and in the last part of the race it became quite difficult trying to manage the tyres. I knew it was going to be super difficult to pass at the restart as from te nlaps to go I knew I had nothing left in the tyres.”
James Penrose: “I’m absolutely rapt. After yesterday’s gearbox issue and the incident at turno ne I didn’t think this would be possible. Starting P12 on the grid and to come away with a podium is unbelievable – I can’t thank the team enough and everyone who supports me. I’ve loved every minute of this series. It has been a big learning curve with a lot of highs and a lot of lows – it is a great way to finish, for sure.”
Wurz accumulated 343 points to Hedge on 329. Third was Jacob Abel with 265 points.
The day’s racing also included action from the BMW Race Driver Series, Hi Q Formula First, Mazda Racing and NAPA Formula Ford.
Winning five from five Formula Ford races, Invercargill’s Alex Crosbie also claimed the Ron Frost Memorial Trophy.
Back-to-back wins by V8 Ute racer Brad Kroef marks him as title contender after the opening round of four for the RYCO 24.7 V8 Ute Championship.
Similarly, Chris Simon won both today’s Hi Q Formula First races. In Mazda Racing Flynn Mullany and Chris White Jnr took a win apiece. The BMW Race Driver Series had two races for each of their three groups. Jason Liefting took the final win in a bruising race for the E30/E46 group, while Shane Geddes claimed the 2L final race win and Martin Day winning the final Open category race.
The next and sixth round of the Super Sprint MotorSport New Zealand Championship will return to the Taupo Motorsport Park 17-19 March.
Caption: Austrian Charlie Wurz has won the 2023 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania (CTFROC) Championship at Taupō’s Motorsport Park.
Photo Credit: Taylor Burke