Strong results but a tough weekend overall for Kiwi racers: Your week in motorsport

Liam Lawson has claimed second in the Super Formula Championship while the heat was on in Surfers Paradise for our Supercars and Porsche drivers

Oct 30, 2023

Liam Lawson has narrowly missed out on winning the Super Formula championship and there was no end of pressure for Kiwis driving at the Gold Coat 500 event this weekend.

Liam Lawson second in Super Formula championship

Liam Lawson has ended the 2023 Super Formula season second in the championship, a critical opportunity to improve that result was scuppered however when the first race of the weekend at Suzuka was stopped due to a significant crash on just lap four.

The incident at the circuit’s infamous 130R corner saw Hiroki Otsu tried and Ukyo Sasahara make contact and fire into the catch fencing. No drivers or spectators were injured, but the fence required repairs and the race was stopped. Lawson was in fifth position at the time but was marching through the field.

This impacted the point spread between he and championship-leading, Ritomo Miyata, who was sitting second in the race at the time it was Red Flagged.

Lawson finished the second race in second position, ahead of Miyata, who came in third, but ultimately the Kiwi finished 8 points behind his rival in the championship.

Despite the unfortunate end to Lawson’s debut Super Formula season, his future seems certain and he remains an F1 driver in waiting. It’s likely he won’t return to Super Formula for 2024, as he has previously indicated F1 will his primary focus in 2024.

“In terms of other championships, I’ve done it all – at least on the F1 path,” Lawson said. “F2 and Super Formula are the two closest things, especially Super Formula, and by the end of the season I would have done it, so unless I go back for a second time, I think I will probably just focus on being reserve.” 

Kiwis strong at Gold Coast

Both Giltrap Group supported Kiwis, Shane van Gisbergen and Matthew Payne have delivered strong results on the Gold Coast in the penultimate Australian Supercars event for 2023.

For defending champ, Shane van Gisbergen, it’s been a hard fought battle between he and Erebus ace, Brodie Kostecki and this weekend proved no different with each driver claiming the same amount of points.

The first race of the weekend had van Gisbergen finish in second position with Kostecki in fifth, eroding Kostecki’s lead by 27 points leaving just 104 points between them. Unfortunately the Red Bull Ampol Racing Camaro didn’t have the measure on the Erebus car in race two and SVG came home in fifth position while Kostecki took P2 behind Penrite Racing’s David Reynolds. So the net point result was the same for each driver and SVG has just two races to make up 131 points if he is to claim the championship. Mathmatically possible, but it looks like 2023 may go to Kostecki.

Meanwhile, Rookie Matthew Payne who has never driven the Gold Coast street circuit before, delivered a blistering lap to qualify second on the grid for race one and third for race 2.

Payne struggled to maintain that track position in race one, finishing inside the top ten but in the second race was comfortable with seasoned drivers like Cam Waters, Brodie Kostecki and David Reynolds. Payne finished fourth ahead of Shane van Gisbergen and that should give the Kiwi confidence heading into the final race at Adelaide next month and indeed for the 2024 season.

Callum Hedge also feeling the heat at Gold Coast

Callum Hedge had a frustrating weekend at the Gold Coast in the supporting Porsche Carerra Cup series. The weekend started perfectly with a Pole Position and race win for Race 1, but the notorious Gold Coast chicanes and the track limits hurt Hedge in Race 2.

The Kiwi was heavily penalised in Race 2 for exceeding track limits as he was forced to short-cut the chicane while battling for the lead. Hedge would ultimately cross the line in first position, but a 5 second penalty was applied and that placed him far down the order in 11th. The race position determines your qualifying position for the next race and on the challenging street circuit with little overtaking opportunities, that proved a big disadvantage for Hedge. He would battle up to sixth in the race, but the ruling saw the Kiwi lose his championship lead to Jackson Walls.

“Very disappointed with the decision made by race control,” Said Hedge, “The Pole and Win was mega, but 11th and 6th for the two races today, and we’ve slipped to 21 points behind in the championship hunt.”

Hedge has one more round to reclaim the Porsche Carrera Cup championship at Adelaide Street Circuit and he’s excited to race there for the first time. In the meantime, the young gun heads to America on Tuesday for the final round of Formula Regional Americas (he’s leading that series), then off to Europe for the Global Porsche shootout.