Penrose beats the drama to take Dan Higgins Trophy

james mafeild feature (940 x 450)

A guaranteed podium finish after a great drive turned into a feature race win for Kiwi James Penrose when the leaders clashed in this afternoon’s Dan Higgins Trophy Race at Manfeild – Circuit Chris Amon.

The 27 lap race had looked like it would go the way of championship leader Charlie Wurz before a mistake by a chasing Louis Foster – his first of the weekend – put both off track at the infield hairpin and pushed them down the order to fifth and seventh.

After a great weekend’s racing the incident was a sad ending for both drivers, but it affected Wurz more as his points lead over Callum Hedge was cut to just six points with two rounds of the 2023 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship remaining.

It ended with a Kiwi 1-2-3 with Hedge following Penrose home and Liam Sceats taking his third feature race podium in as many weekends. All three drivers are racing this season with the help of the Kiwi Driver Fund.

For Penrose the drama ahead was academic and he was in the right place at the right time thanks to a solid drive. When the leaders clashed he was pulling away from Callum Hedge. The win moved him into fourth overall in the championship points table and was a proud moment for the oldest driver in this year’s championship at 27.

“I can’t believe it. Luck was on my side today,” he said afterwards.  “I saw what happened in front and I just kept pushing and pushing and tried not to do reinvent the wheel or anything like that. It’s fantastic to win a feature race and do it here at a track with such history and heritage.

“It’s really one of the biggest moments of my career so far and I’m just so grateful for the support I’ve had from the Kiwi Driver Fund. I’ve got to thank them, all my sponsors, Kiwi Motorsport, my dad, everyone.

“It’s a massive confidence booster heading into the Grand Prix next weekend.”

Wurz had led from pole position and looked comfortable and assured ahead of Foster as the British racer tracked the Austrian – unable to mount a significant challenge. The race had started cleanly but the field was broken up on lap two when morning winner Josh Mason collided with Ryan Shehan and Billy Frazer. It put Mason out with damaged suspension, Shehan down the order and Billy Frazer right to the back of the pack with a damaged car.

For much of the race the two leaders had a gap over Penrose and Hedge, who in turn headed the midfield group. It remained like that until that critical 18th lap.

Sceats looked assured and strong throughout the race on his way to another third, exhausted but delighted afterwards. Jacob Abel continued his impressive run of strong results with a fourth place finish to consolidate his third spot in the championship table while David Morales capped a strong recovery on pace this weekend with fifth place.

Wurz came home a disappointed sixth, while Ryder Quinn and Adam Fitzgerald made a step up from their Sunday morning races with seventh and eighth. Chole Chambers kept her nose clean for yet another top ten place in ninth while Shehan recovered from his early mishap to round out the top ten

The championship now moves to the fourth round and the biggest single seater race weekend on the New Zealand motorsport calendar – the 67th Grand Prix and it will be game on again for all the top runners with testing Thursday and Friday before the weekend action begins on Saturday morning.


2023 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship – R3 – Manfeild

Race 3 – Dan Higgins Trophy - result

  1. James Penrose (NZ)
  2. Callum Hedge (NZ)
  3. Liam Sceats (NZ)
  4. Jacob Abel (USA)
  5. David Morales (USA)
  6. Charlie Wurz (Austria)
  7. Ryder Quinn (Aus)
  8. Adam Fitzgerald (Ire)
  9. Chloe Chambers (USA)
  10. Ryan Shehan (USA)
  11. Tom McLennan (Aus)
  12. Bree Morris (NZ)
  13. Louis Foster (UK)*
  14. Lucas Fecury (Bra)
  15. Billy Frazer (NZ)


*Includes drive through penalty

DNF: Josh Mason (UK)