18-year-old driver Callum Crawley from Feilding has won the prestigious Morrie Smith Memorial Trophy at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon over the weekend. Crawley took his maiden win in the New Zealand Formula 1600 (Ford) Championship in the final race of the weekend, which also awarded him the trophy in memory of motorsport legend Ken Smith’s late father.
The weekend marked the penultimate round of the five-round NZ F1600 Championship, a series which Crawley stepped up to just this season after winning the NZ Formula First Championship in April 2018.
Manfeild was the first track Crawley had already had experience at in the series after the first three rounds were held at South Island tracks which he had not driven before. It was also just the third event his brand new Career Racing Spectrum F1600 car had ever competed in, making the win even more impressive.
Friday’s practice gave Crawley and his Career Racing team quiet confidence of a strong result after their times were incredibly close to the championship leaders. Saturday’s 20-minute qualifying session backed up their practice pace as Crawley qualified in fourth, just 0.138-seconds off the fastest time.
“It was a pretty exciting weekend for us!” Said Crawley.
“Friday practice started off well, we ended the day second fastest and gave us a good outlook to Saturday.
“Qualifying was pretty messy if I’m honest, but we got one lap in which was good enough for fourth. It was extremely close up the front so it was great to be right up there.”
The first race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon, ten-laps in length, saw Crawley start from 12th after an unavoidable eight-place grid penalty was handed to him. Despite starting from the mid-field Crawley got a storming start and quickly made his way to the front and finished in second place.
“The grid penalty wasn’t ideal obviously, but it gave us a good challenge. Luckily we got a good start and we caught the front pack and slipped through to second.”
Sunday mornings race, also ten-laps, saw Crawley get away with another fantastic start to grab the lead by the first corner. The race was held in the rain and unfortunately, the wet set-up on the car did not give them the grip Crawley needed to hold the lead and ended the race in fourth.
“Unfortunately the car went away from us at the end of the race but it was cool to get away good again and lead some laps.”
The final 12-lap race of the weekend, again held in wet conditions, saw Crawley get another great start to lead early on. He was again challenged and passed but had improved his car since the morning’s race and was able to regain the lead the build a gap before crossing the line for his first win in the championship.
“The final race was very exciting! Another good start put us in the lead early again but it didn’t come easy as we got passed but we were able to pass them back which is great and take the win.”
Crawley’s driving was considered amongst many as the standout of the weekend and has given a boost to him and his Career Racing team who are debuting the new Spectrum car in New Zealand.
The final round of the New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship takes place this weekend at Pukekohe Park Raceway.