Formula 1600 proposal has key flaws

Details have come to light regarding a proposal to move the current New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship to a new level.

This proposal was put to the Motorsport New Zealand board in August 2018 as a pathway to move the category into the future as a career pathway for young drivers coming through from Kartsport.

It is reported that there were three recommendations considered in the proposal

1/ Continue the category in its current format (as is)
2/ Explore the option of a replacement category (such as Formula 4)
3/ Take up the model suggested in the proposal.

 

In a nutshell, the proposal was for the following model:

– Bring in a controlled chassis program – this would only be a Spectrum chassis.
– The NZ Formula 1600 championship would be contested only by Spectrum controlled chassis cars
– All other cars would become Class 2 cars
– A signing off by MSNZ with Borland Racing Developments (manufacturers of the Spectrum chassis) in September 2019 to provide the controlled chassis
– Use of current Kent engines and Hewland gearbox arrangement

The reasons given for a controlled class are:
– To eliminate a history of excessive spending
– To provide a championship determined by driver skill
– To ease the technical control by MSNZ technical staff
– To provide a centralised parts/spares supply

 

The proposed future with a controlled one-make chassis is compared with the current TR86 Championship and to some extent the AP4 concept used in the NZ Rally Championship.

Given what has been reported and come to light, the proposal is flawed in many respects.

1/ It makes a number of assumptions, without facts backing these up.
That excessive spending happens in the category. This is a subjective topic. It needs to be stated when and what this excessive spending entailed. Yes, there have been times where this appears to have happened. But this need to be stated as fact, backed up with figures and comparisons made.
– Arguably the category has not seen this excessive spending for some time other than a competitor going out and buying a brand-new chassis which appears to be welcomed by the category.

The need to provide a championship determined by driver skill – again this is subjective. Again, this needs to be backed with opinion from those currently involved with the category.It raises a number of questions such as the following:

– Have the current organisers (the South Island Formula Ford Club) of both the South Island and New Zealand Formula 1600 Championships been consulted and quoted in the proposal?

– Have current and past competitors complained about it not providing a series determined by driver skill?

– Have we seen a decline in the grids competing in both championships over the last five years as a result of this? The answer would be no as girds have progressively increased.

The need to provide a centralisd parts/spares supply. Yes, it would do this but there is already a well-defined network amongst F1600 competitors, teams and suppliers for helping one another.

 

2/ The second flaw is only having one chassis provider
– If there was to be only one chassis provider, what are the key arguments in favour of this.
– Having only one chassis provider would be seen as a monopoly, which is not good in the long run. While pricing may appear to be fair, a monopoly opens the door for criticism and allegations of high pricing and too much control.  This is divisive.
– Why the Spectrum chassis? The proposal does not list the reasons for supporting the use of only one manufacturer.  Have other chassis manufacturers’ been consulted? Have comparisons been made?
– Has the possibility of having several chassis suppliers been investigated? If so what conclusions have been made?

 

3/ The third flaw is only allowing controlled chassis compete for the NZ national title.
– This may well be seen as a slap in the face and disrespectful for those who have a current invested interest in the category, many who appear not to have been consulted. Currently the national title can be competed for by all current chassis across three different Classes. There is a good argument for the current situation being a level playing field where Class 2 cars can compete with the latest machinery and be competitive, no matter what your budget is. The proposal lacks reason for not continuing the status quo. or allowing Class 2 cars (other chassis) to compete.

 

4/ The fourth flaw is to compare having a controlled chassis with the TR86 Championship.
– The proposal forgets that both the Toyota Racing Series and the TR86 Championship has the backing of Toyota New Zealand. This is a serious and committed backer who has invested and spends more than they would get back from annual leasing arrangements with competitors.  It is Toyota who has created both the TRS and TR86 categories.
– Are Borland Racing Developments going to do the same? What are they going to invest in the category and will it be on-going?
– The AP4 chassis arrangement with the NZ Rally Championship is not a good comparison as the rally championship is not restricted to just those chassis.

 

5/ The biggest flaw is to deny what is currently happening in the category and assume that there is a problem that needs fixing.
– Through shear hard work over many years, the South Island Formula Ford Club has gradually rebuilt the category to where it is today. Grids of 23-24 cars have competed in the first three meetings held this season, including the opening national round at Timaru.
– For several years we have seen increasing grids in the South Island, the opposite in the North.
– Is the real problem the fact that North Island car owners/competitors/teams are not bringing their cars out of their sheds and competing in either the North Island or national rounds.
– Arguably today we do have a competition that provides equal machinery and two championships that are determined by driver skill and not necessarily by how much money has been spent.
– Yes, there is the need to ‘modernise’ the category, but arguably this needs to be done through the current and committed stakeholders, particularly the South Island Formula Ford Club who have been the most active and hardworking stakeholders.

 

The original proposal put to the NZ Motorsport board in August this year is not factually based, lacks consultation and appears to have an agenda which doesn’t take into account what is currently happening in the category and hence is flawed in its approach. This must be taken into consideration by the MSNZ board in deciding any future changes to the category.

 

Any proposal or proposition for future development must stand the test of scrutiny.  It must stand up to argument and robust debate in order to test  is validity, otherwise it will not stand the test of time.  Please note  that this website welcomes debate on this topic whether for or against this proposal.  Please contact the editor: benjamin@talkmotorsport.co.nz

Benjamin Carrell

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits both talkmotorsport.co.nz and nzmotorracing.co.nz. He writes a weekly motorsport column for Stuff as well as writing for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

http://nzmotorracing.co.nz

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