Seeing Double at Winton

Winton Motor Raceway is set to host the CAMS PAYCE Australian Formula 4 Championship’s endurance double-round in September as part of the Shannons Nationals.

The double-round was inaugurated last season at Sandown Raceway, where Rounds One and Two were held across one weekend. The format remains identical to last year, with two qualifying sessions on Friday, three races on Saturday, and another three on Sunday.

With the battle for the championship intensifying with only a few rounds remaining, a pool of 606 points will be awarded across the Winton weekend, and a maximum of 150 could potentially go to race winners.

Last year’s double-round at Sandown was a break-through debut for New Zealander Liam Lawson, who grabbed the attention of the paddock to win the round on debut.

Lawson eventually finished runner-up in the championship standings, and is this year a race winner in the ultra-competitive ADAC German Formula 4 Championship.

The season’s eventual champion Nick Rowe claimed honours on Sunday’s second round, with his speedway experience coming to the fore in torrential conditions.

Ryan Suhle also claimed a sensational pole position on his debut weekend, claiming first place on the grid for Round Two. This year Suhle races with AGI Sport and is excited to take on the challenge.

“Yes Sandown was a tricky one. I put it on pole and then the first race in the rain in an open wheel race car was a bit a bit sketchy,” Suhle said.

“I think it was it was fantastic to have a double round though, because we all got into a groove. You bring the cars the whole way here, and it’s good to do the extra bit of racing because obviously racing’s our fix.

“So if you can do an extra three races and an extra qualifying session, we’re on.”

Suhle is one of three drivers in this year’s field to have experienced the demands of a double-round, with Cameron Shields and Aaron Love also keen to take on Winton.

“I really like it. I like that kind of thing. I’m really serious in my training as well, so keeping fit is a big part of what I do for racing so I’m certainly looking forward to that,” Shields said.

“Having the double rounds can really help you, or it can really hurt you as well. So we’re certainly hoping this year that our luck can turn around and hopefully play in our favour.

Current championship leader Jayden Ojeda has himself enjoyed a six race winning streak, which began at Phillip Island in June and continued through the recent round at Queensland Raceway.

“Six races at Winton Motor Raceway, I’ve never done that many races in a race weekend,” Ojeda said.

“It’ll be a new experience and a lot to take in. Hopefully we can have a strong car for both rounds. I mean it’s going to be all hell they down there, especially with such a tight track as well.

“A lot of tracks we’ve gone through this year have been nice, open and flowing. To change the style of the track as well will be interesting and hopefully change the field up a little bit and we’ll see how everyone pans out.”

For Australian Formula 4’s newest team and driver combination in Patrizicorse and Jackson Walls, the prospect of six-races is a massive positive as the team has made improvements race-by-race so far this season. Walls was particularly excited for the amount of track time that awaits him.

“Yes, are you serious? We are so keen for that round. It’s going to be the best round of the year,” Walls said.

“Six races in one weekend, and two qualifying sessions. What more can you ask for? It’s going to be flat out.”

The teams and drivers are already well versed with the layout of Winton, with the regional Victorian facility frequently used for testing. Though in 2018, it will be the first time in the championship’s relatively brief history that the track will formally host a Formula 4 round.

It holds a special place in Formula 4’s history, as it was the scene where the first Australian Formula 4 car turned laps during its testing and development phase back in early-2015.

Round Four’s three races will begin on Saturday 1 September. Round Five’s action will be streamed live and free on thenationals.com.au, with highlights to appear on SBS in the following weeks.