Sceats clean sweeps first race at Highlands

Liam race 1 win HIghlands (940 x 450)

Liam Sceats took his second race win in a row, starting from pole position and taking fastest lap and a new lap record as he kept his 2024 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship hopes alive for the final day.

In the end, it was a straightforward race win for Sceats, his second in a row and the most he could do to maintain his late title challenge to Bilinski.

“I’m really happy to take the win today and it gives me great confidence for tomorrow,” said the winner afterwards. “Winning last week gave me a big boost ahead of this weekend and I’m in a really good place at the moment. I’ve still got to make up ground to Roman but I’m very focussed on winning the Grand Prix.”

After a qualifying session packed with drama, a quiet first race was very welcome. It wasn’t without its excitement, however as Callum Hedge had a race long fight holding off a cautious Roman Bilinski for second. Bilinski, conscious that a retirement would do his title chances no good whatsoever, settled for third and a slightly reduced points lead over Sceats with just two races left.

Behind Sceats on pole position there were some interesting stories. Second on the grid Callum Hedge was suffering jet lag after his last second addition to the final round, but happy to be fast and on the pace. Michael Shin was lucky to be on the grid at all after a huge shunt at the end of qualifying but his M2 Competition mechanics worked wonders, as they did on Roman Bilinski’s car. Bilinski had left himself plenty to do after a rare mistake and a crash in qualifying relegated him from first to fourth on the grid.  

At the lights Sceats made a clean getaway to lead Hedge while Bilinski was fast away to take third from Shin into the first chicane. Jacob Abel also got away well and got ahead of Gerrard Xie for fourth by the time they surged across the line to complete the first of 18 laps.

The race quickly settled won with no changes in the lead group and pack behind as the drivers looked to get the most out of their tyres without driving in the aerodynamic wash of the car in front. 

Beating Sceats would secure Bilinski the title, despite his morning crash, but in the early laps he was happy to play follow the leader and sit just behind Hedge, but a few car lengths ahead of Michael Shin. Patrick Woods-Toth had also made some progress early on, and settled down in seventh behind Gerrard Xie, who early on was notified he was under investigation for a potential jumped start.

As the race wore on, Bilinski began to look very strong, tracking Hedge and putting in fastest laps at will. It looked very much like he was shaping up to pass Hedge or at least try to and  by lap six Hedge was fully on the defensive.

Sceats though was only half a second ahead of those two, and by lap six it looked like it would shape up into a battle for the race win, and potentially the championship if Roman could beat Liam to the chequered flag.

Over the next lap, however, Hedge slowed significantly enough for Sceats to break away to an advantage of around a second, and Bilinski started to look for every opportunity to pass.  

Tempered by the knowledge that his first DNF of the season would give Sceats the momentum in the chase to the championship, Bilinski remained cautious through to the end and at the flag it was Sceats, Hedge and Bilinski. Afterwards the championship leader was satisfied with the result. “I did everything I needed to do in that race and I’m happy with where I am for tomorrow,” he said. “Callum was really fast and I’m in a good position for tomorrow.”

Michael Shin was fourth, Abel fifth, Woods-Toth sixth, Bryce Aron seventh, Xie an eventual eighth after a post-race penalty, Elliot Cleary a fine ninth and 16 year old Sebastian Manson getting his first top ten result in only his third race in the category.

“I did everything I needed to do in that race and I’m happy with where I am for tomorrow. Callum was really fast and I’m in a good position for tomorrow.”


2024 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship certified by FIA – Race 1


Pos Number Driver Team
1 23 Liam Sceats (NZL) M2 Competition
2 17 Callum Hedge (NZL) MTEC Motorsport
3 4 Roman Bilinski (POL) M2 Competition
4 16 Michael Shin (KOR) M2 Competition
5 51 Jacob Abel (USA) MTEC Motorsport
6 14 Patrick Woods Toth (CAN) Kiwi Motorsport
7 27 Bryce Aron (USA) M2 Competition
8 39 Gerrard Xie (CHN) M2 Competition
9 19 Elliot Cleary (AUS) MTEC Motorsport
10 69 Sebastian Manson (NZL) Giles Motorsport
11 22 Jett Bowling (USA) Kiwi Motorsport
12 101 Ryder Quinn (AUS) M2 Competition
13 41 Alex Crosbie (NZL) Giles Motorsport
14 5 Lucas Fecury  (BRA) MTEC Motorsport
15 739 Landan Matriano Lim (USA) Giles Motorsport
16 20 Jake Bonilla (USA) Kiwi Motorsport
17 31 Titus Sherlock (USA) Kiwi Motorsport