AGI Sport’s Nick Rowe has claimed the season opening race for the 2017 CAMS Jayco Australian Formula 4 Championship at Sandown Raceway.
Up until last week, the Karratha driver was in hospital with a bout of pneumonia. In a sensational return to racing, the AGI Sport driver was engaged in a thrilling battle with New Zealand’s Liam Lawson.
Zagame Autosport and CAMS Foundation Rising Star Ryan Suhle was within a second of the two racers ahead for the majority of the race – even attempting a pass into Turn One with Lawson around the outside and Rowe in the middle.
“It was seriously close,” Lawson said.
“The only guideline I got from turn one was that I saw smoke, so I had to back out of that one. Was a great race with you guys. I’m stoked, looking forward to the next one.”
“It was pretty loose,” Suhle continued.
“I made a move up the inside, we were three wide into turn one. I just hit a bump awkwardly, locked up the brakes and kept it out of the gravel trap which was lucky.
“It was pretty bold. A bit too bold!”
Cameron Shields – who yesterday qualified fourth – was an early retirement, stranded on the final corner just prior to the start of Lap Two after a coming together with teammate Simon Fallon. Further, a small fire destroyed a sidepod, with last year’s Australian Formula 3 National Class winner disappointed to start Race Two from last.
Racing resumed on Lap Five with Rowe holding onto his lead ahead of Lawson, the New Zealand youngster hustling Rowe on Lap 11.
“I got on his toe at turn one and was going to brake as late as I can but he just braked that little bit later, and I couldn’t get back by him,” Rowe said.
“He was just a little bit slower on the back straight, and I knew that if I had a good run I could get him at the end of the straight.
“Hard work. But awesome race. Probably best race I’ve ever had.”
“I was a fair bit in front going into the corner and I knew that was going to brake deep so I just went as deep as I could and nearly ran off,” Lawson continued.
“Stoked with the result.”
Formula 4 debutants Jordan Mazzaroli/JRD and Aaron Love/Team BRM enjoyed swapping positions throughout the race, with Mazzaroli eventually climbing up to fifth as the second best placed Burson Auto Parts Rookie driver – with Love finishing eighth overall and third best rookie.
Rowe lead the majority of the race, however Liam Lawson briefly lead after completing a successful pass on Rowe into Turn One on Lap 15.
Two laps later, Rowe pulled off a brilliant pass on Lawson at the top of the fast Dandenong Road section.
Josh Denton/Team BRM claimed fastest lap honours in an impressive fourth, with a 1:15.1172.
Zagame Autosport’s Tyler Everingham remained in sixth place, despite being penalised with a 5 second time penalty after being deemed to have jumped the race start. AGI Sport duo Zak Best and Harley Haber rounded off the final points paying positions in ninth and tenth respectively.
A further two races remain today for Round One, with Race Two to start at 11:35am and Race Three at 2:30pm.
Tomorrow’s Round Two will feature a live online stream via Nationals TV at www.thenationals.com.au
Provisional Race One Results
1 – Nick Rowe – AGI Sport – 27:56.2300
2 – Liam Lawson – Team BRM +0.4699
3 – Ryan Suhle – Zagame Autosport +0.7627
4 – Josh Denton – Team BRM +1.5565
5 – Jordan Mazzaroli – JRD +5.0667
6 – Tyler Everingham – Zagame Autosport +13.2917
7 – Simon Fallon – Team BRM +14.3437
8 – Aaron Love – Team BRM +14.3848
9 – Zak Best – AGI Sport +14.7939
10 – Harley Haber – AGI Sport +22.2876
11 – Sage Murdoch – AGI Sport +36.6810
DNF – Zane Morse – Team BRM
DNF – Cameron Shields – Team BRM
Race Two Starting Grid
1 – Jordan Mazzaroli – JRD
2 – Josh Denton – Team BRM
3 – Ryan Suhle – Zagame Autosport
4 – Liam Lawson – Team BRM
5 – Nick Rowe – AGI Sport
6 – Tyler Everingham – Zagame Autosport
7 – Simon Fallon – Team BRM
8 – Aaron Love – Team BRM
9 – Zak Best – AGI Sport
10 – Harley Haber – AGI Sport
11 – Sage Murdoch – AGI Sport
12 – Zane Morse – Team BRM
13 – Cameron Shields – Team BRM