Formula 1 “son of a gun” extends championship lead in Toyota racing series


Wurz went into the weekend without winning a race and leaves as a two-time race winner.

Taylor Burke

Wurz went into the weekend without winning a race and leaves as a two-time race winner.

Austria’s Charlie Wurz has extended his lead in the Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship after winning two of the category’s three races at Invercargill over the weekend.

Second of the round (and now second overall) was New Zealand’s Callum Hedge, who had finished second to Wurz in each of his victories and shared the results with victory in an intriguing reverse grid race.

Wurz’ breathtaking weekend brought him his breakthrough the fourth different race winner of the season so far – the second-generation racer who claimed victory number one after a commanding win at the start of the weekend.

Wurz leads Callum Hedge in a hard-fought feature race.

Bruce Jenkins

Wurz leads Callum Hedge in a hard-fought feature race.

“Offline we were good and I knew that was the most important thing. Callum was very quick today and maybe I was a bit lacking in race pace compared to yesterday so we’ll have to look at that but the team have been working on the qualifying pace and that’s so important in the championship and especially here,” Wurz said afterwards race three.

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Wurz beat polesitter Hedge from second place and retained the lead for the duration of the race, beating at home Hedge, Jacob Abel (USA), Josh Mason (UK) and James Penrose (New Zealand).

spice (Son of former Formula 1 driver Alexander Wurz) and Hedge were leagues ahead for the rest of the pack for most of the weekend. Both dry runs of the event, race one and the Spirit of a Nation Cup, were an affair between Wurz and Hedge at the front – the two youngsters never looked threatened from behind.

“At first I wasn’t sure what to expect but I strayed from my instincts a bit and it worked out well. I knew in turn one I was halfway there, but the tires came off a bit later in the race so I had to keep a close eye on Callum in the mirrors,” said Wurz.

The only difference in the final was the final podium finish. Quiet performer Liam Sceats was third (his second podium of the season so far) after holding off Mason after a race-long battle for the spot.

However, the highlight of the weekend was race two. The partially reversed grid showdown was punctuated by wet conditions and a dynamic race surface that transitioned from wet to dry before getting wet again before the end as the skies opened up.

Hedge’s victory came only after the Carrera Cup Australia star snapped up from seventh on the grid and scored an exciting victory – highlighted by a brave pass to Jacob Abel that put him briefly on the turf at turn one.

Ryan Shehan (USA) and Ryder Quinn (Australia) completed the weather-beaten podium. Such is the competitive nature of the Toyota Formula Regional series that almost two-thirds of the field have achieved a podium finish after just six races.

The Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship heads to Hampton Downs for the New Zealand Grand Prix in two weeks;  a trophy last won by Shane van Gisbergen.

Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

The Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship heads to Hampton Downs for the New Zealand Grand Prix in two weeks; a trophy last won by Shane van Gisbergen.

“I had a lot of work to do but as the track started to dry I knew that was my moment to push and that was also when I was faster than the other cars so it was either a win or it was honestly a bin-it moment,” Hedge said. “I got around the outside and ran into the weeds, which was fine, but then I decided to get a little more aggressive and go for the move.

“It was definitely a difficult race. At the start I radioed that we might need slicks and for the first half of the race we needed slicks but for the second half of the race we needed wets. It’s been up and down, but I’m excited for the team.â€

The series now travels to Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon for the mid-season next weekend. The event also serves as a prelude to the New Zealand Grand Prix, which will be held February 3-5 at Waikato’s Hampton Downs Motorsport Park.



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