Southland drivers Ethan Anderson and Jordan Michels are set to continue their rivalry on the track as the 2016/17 South Island Formula 1600 Championship gets underway in Christchurch over the weekend. With over 25 cars expected to take to the grid at the Mike Pero Motorsport Park, the six round series is set to be the best for some years.
Anderson won a nail biting finale in last season’s series, winning the title by just one point from Michels who finished runner up and top rookie driver. On the line for the overall winner is a test day at Winton Raceway in New South Wales. This will be the second year that Mygale Australia has put up this prize for the SIFF championship.
“We’ve done a lot of work on the car over the winter period,” commented Anderson. “I’m feeling good heading into a new season but I know the competition will be tough with a number of new rookies coming through in Mygale cars. Jordan (Michels) will be right up there as well, he’s got a lot of speed.”
Others joining the fast Class 1 category will be rookies Liam Lawson from Pukekohe, Dunedin top level karter Josh Bethune and Jack Noble-Adams. Fourteen-year-old Speedsport Scholarship winner Liam Lawson made his single seater debut last season in the North Island Formula First competition and will use the opening round of the SIFF as preparation for the national NZF16000 Championship that gets underway in November.
Christchurch’s Anna Collins moves up to the Class having won the Class 2 national title last season. Joining her is UK’s Trevor Stiles who will compete in the ex-Russ Noble Stealth. Making a return to the category is Dave Arrowsmith, Grant Campbell and Stephen Heffernan.
Competing in Class 2 and a threat to the overall title is Michael Collins who makes a return after a year’s absence. Collins won the overall SIFF title in both 2012/13 and 2014/15 season and finished runner up in 2013/14. Dyson Freeman won Class 2 last season and returns along with Royce Bayer, Philip Butcher, James Dicey, Robert Toshach, Derek Wilson and Corey Hodges who won the Class 3 title last season. Joining the Class will be rookie Robin Williams from Southland.
With Hodges moving up to Class 2, the battle for Class 3 honours could well be between brothers Dave and Roger McKenzie and Graham Dickie. Joining the battle is former 2000 SIFF title holder Noel Atley who started competing in the formula twenty years ago, along with rookie Andy Downs and Joseph Oliver who competed in just one round last season.
Series co-ordinator Steve Edwards is excited about the future prospects of the series. “We’re just thrilled to have so many cars entered for this season’s opening round. It’s a credit to all involved, including the drivers, teams, the SIFF committee and all the hard work that goes in to this great category of racing.
“It’s a category that is so important to bring new and young talent through, particularly from kartsport. There will certainly be some great competition for all on the grids this summer with the numbers that we are anticipating.”
The opening round is part of the Canterbury Car Club’s Speed Festival at the Mike Pero Motorsport Park. Practice for the opening round takes place on Friday with qualifying and race one on Saturday and two more races on Sunday.