Down to the wire for Wurz, Hedge and Abel

Champions (940 x 450)

With one round to go this weekend at the Taupo International Motorsport Park, the 2023 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship is all set to go down to the wire.

Three drivers are in with a chance of taking New Zealand’s premier single seater title and the 18 FIA Super Licence points that go with it. Austrian Charlie Wurz leads top Kiwi Callum Hedge by 10 points, with American Jacob Abel 22 points further behind.

The title chase has swung one way and another between them for four weekends whether it’s been due to race wins, strong finishes or bad luck, but these two young chargers have consistently proved they are the strongest racers overall in the New Zealand series.

Wurz has been there or thereabouts in every session in the championship, lacking outright pace only at last weekend’s New Zealand Grand Prix, where he was outpaced by several drivers who joined the Castrol Toyota FR Oceania season too late to feature in the championship.

Hedge also had more pace than his rival, but was unable to capitalise due to an electronic gremlin . That he bounced back to soundly beat Wurz in the GP itself is why the gap between them is just 10 points with three races to go and points to what has perhaps been Hedge’s greatest strength, his resilience.

And what of Abel? Mathematically he’s the underdog but he’s had a strong championship campaign and has been improving every weekend. He’s fast and more importantly he’s consistent. He came close to winning last weekend at the Grand Prix event, in the Sunday morning race, chasing Wurz all the way to the flag.

In championship terms, nobody has to worry about the incredible pace of latecomers Louis Foster, Laurens van Hoepen and Kaleb Ngatoa, all of whom are racing at Taupo. They can populate the top three all weekend, Hedge, Wurz and Abel just have to focus on finishing every race and beating each other in the process.

Given their risk free status and their obvious speed, it’s hard to see beyond Foster, van Hoepen and Ngatoa this weekend as the drivers most likely to win races so the championship should provide a thriller of a finish if the two protagonists are slugging it out further down the order with Abel waiting for them to trip over each other.

Eight different winners in 12 races so far proves that the championship is as open and winnable as any of its Formula Regional counterparts around the world. Three teams – Giles Motorsport, Kiwi Motorsport and M2 Competition have all won races as well.

Second and third place for the Trans-Tasman Trophy – for New Zealand and Australian competitors only - is also to be decided between Kiwis Liam Sceats and James Penrose and Australian Ryder Quinn.

Testing will take place on Thursday and Friday at the circuit – famously part of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport 15 years ago – with qualifying and a race on Saturday and qualifying and two races on Sunday.


2023 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship Standings

  1. Charlie Wurz (AUT) – M2 Competition - 270
  2. Callum Hedge (NZL) – M2 Competition - 260
  3. Jacob Abel (USA) – Kiwi Motorsport -238
  4. Liam Sceats (NZL) – M2 Competition - 187
  5. James Penrose (NZL) – Kiwi Motorsport -181
  6. David Morales (USA) – M2 Competition - 178
  7. Ryder Quinn (AUS) – M2 Competition - 169
  8. Josh Mason (GBR) – Kiwi Motorsport - 162
  9. Ryan Shehan (USA) – Giles Motorsport - 151
  10. Chloe Chambers (USA) – Giles Motorsport - 124
  11. Louis Foster (GBR) – Giles Motorsport - 101
  12. Tom McLennan (AUS) – Kiwi Motorsport - 86
  13. Laurens van Hoepen (NED) – M2 Competition - 82
  14. Lucas Fecury (BRA) – Kiwi Motorsport - 82
  15. Bree Morris (NZL) – Giles Motorsport - 74
  16. Kaleb Ngatoa (NZL) – Giles Motorsport - 63
  17. Adam Fitzgerald (IRL) – Giles Motorsport - 62
  18. Brendon Leitch (NZL) – Kiwi Motorsport - 44
  19. Billy Frazer (NZL) – Hamilton Motorsport -33