Zach Bates has taken a dramatic victory in the NSW Formula Ford Championship title decider, held as part of the seventh and final round of the Motorsport Australia NSW State Championships at Wakefield Park on the weekend.
Bates – son of rally ace Rick – came into the weekend locked together on points with his title rival Cameron McLeod, and the championship pendulum swung McLeod’s way after he finished second in race one behind Jude Bargwanna and ahead of Bates in third.
However, McLeod’s chances of victory were dealt a severe blow in race two when he was turfed out of the lead pack by Adrian Sarkis, allowing Bates to gain a two-point advantage heading into the third and final race.
In race three, Bates made a spectacular move around the outside of Bargwanna at turn 10 and from there he was never headed, pulling clear of the field to take the race and championship victory.
Aaron Lee took a narrow win in the Formula Vee 1600cc Championship with conservative drives to third, third and fourth in the three races; his title rival, Michael Kinsella looked the goods after winning race one, but was denied of the race two and three victories, and ultimately the championship, by Daniel Reynolds. Stephen Butcher secured overall honours in the 1200cc class.
In Formula Race Cars, Trent Grubel drove his newly-imported Dallara F312 to a comprehensive victory in race one, but fell to the rear of the field in race two after stalling on the grid. He recovered to finish third behind impressive rookie Gianmarco Pradel (AGI Sport Formula 4) and Nathan Gotch, who blew the engine in his F3 car just after crossing the finish line.
Grubel asserted himself in race three to take victory ahead of Pradel and Doug Barry (F4000), while Greg Muddle secured the title with two fourths and a seventh.
Ryan Gorton wrapped up back-to-back titles in the Mazda RX8 Cup with four comprehensive race wins, with Justin Barnes and Tom Shaw.
The three Supersports races were all held on Saturday, with large patches of standing water playing havoc with the competitors’ tyre choice. Brad Shiels overcame the difficult conditions to notch up three race wins in his Radical SR3. Ryan Godfrey (Radical SR3) was second in race one but fell back to fourth in races two and three, with Nick Kelly moving forward to take the runner-up spot in his Radical SR8; Brianna Wilson (Radical SR3) was third in all three races.
Points leader Darren Barlow adopted a conservative approach to the first two races, finishing seventh and 10th, before surviving a scary, multi-car tangle at the start of race three which eliminated the cars of Sue Hughes and Craig McLatchy. The race was red-flagged and Barlow was able to resume; his fifth-place finish was enough to assure him of the title.
Shiels was also competing in the Sports Sedans, in which he had already secured the championship before the weekend; he won race one, but his Fiat 124 developed an electrical problem which saw Shiels chalking up DNFs in races two and three; William Fercher capitalised to win both those races, his race three win coming after Birol Cetin (first across the line) was penalised for a Safety Car restart infringement.
The final category on the program was the Pulsar Racing Series, with the two race wins shared between Josh Craig and Daniel Smith.