Bethune wins South Island F1600 title at rollercoaster finale

28 Mar 2018
#32 Josh Bethune (Ray) Ahead Of #36 Kurt Peterson (Stealth). Photo credit: Euan Cameron

Josh Bethune (11E2) is the 2017/18 South Island Formula 1600 Championship titleholder after an eventful round at Timaru International Raceway on Saturday. Qualifying fastest, coupled with a fourth in race one and winning the final two races of the season was enough to hand the Auckland teenager the title while his closest rivals faced misfortune.

Heading into the sixth round, it was Christchurch’s Bailey Paterson who had a 33-point lead over Southland’s Ethan Anderson with Bethune another two points further back. Misfortune was to come Paterson’s way with an on-board fire after finishing third in the opening race.

While leading the race, Paterson’s engine started to cut-out through the corners. As the problem got worse, he slipped down the order and crossed the line in third spot. The situation deteriorated on the cool down lap when the car caught on fire. This looked like it would end both his weekend and championship hopes.

Such is the camaraderie within the F1600 category; fellow competitor Steve Heffernan lent Paterson his car for the second race of the round. While needing to finish the race in ninth position or better to win the title, this was not to be.

While leaving the pits for the start of the race another competitor rear-ended Paterson finally ending both his race weekend as well as this title bid. While Bethune went on to win race 2, Anderson held a narrow lead in the championship heading to the final race of the summer. However, with Anderson retiring out of the race on the opening lap, Bethune went on to win his second race of the round along with securing the overall title.

“It’s been a pretty good first season,” commented Bethune. “After not finishing the opening race (of the season) as well as two others I thought our title chances were over. However, we have had plenty of good races and showed some real consistency. The highlight was winning the Wigram Cup at the Ruapuna round, particularly with the heritage that comes with it.”

Second in all three races at Timaru was Aucklander Kurt Peterson. This gave him enough points to finish second overall with Anderson third.

“I’m definitely thrilled with the result,” commented Peterson. “We’ve had some really good races and made good progress over the season. It is a bit unexpected as we thought we would bring the car out of the shed, blow the cobwebs off it and see what happens.

“We were always just back from the front pack but as the season progressed we were able to race with them and then compete with them which has been fantastic. I’ve certainly gained more confidence as the season went on.”

With three different Classes competing within the series, Bethune also wins Class 1 while Robert Toshach had already secured Class 2 before the final round.

While Toshach has shown extraordinary consistency over the six rounds he had his first DNF (did-not-finish) at Timaru after he cracked primary exhaust in qualifying and missed the opening race. Southland’s Noel Atley won the round and finished second overall in Class 2.

The Historic Class 3 battle continued between Nelson’s Matt Butchart and Southland’s Joseph Oliver. Oliver finished all three races ahead of Butchard but the latter had enough points in the bank heading into the round, winning the overall Class three title by just two points.

˜ (South Island Formula Ford)


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