This weekend sees the opening round of the 2020/21 Hi-Q Components New Zealand Formula First Championship and Christchurch’s Louis Sharp making the step up to competing in a national single seater series. The eight-round championship gets underway at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon in Feilding, 24-25 October, with three races over Saturday and Sunday.
It won’t be the first time Sharp has competed in Formula First, after making his debut in the 2020 Formula First Manfield Winter Series where he showed significant pace, winning just his second-ever outing.
The youngster is being guided through the campaign by the team at Track Tec Racing. Team manager Matt Waters commented, “We are thrilled to be running such a good talent in the NZ Formula First Championship. While it would be great to win races and a championship, the objective is to gain race experience, learn race craft and gather as many points as we can.”
“I’m really excited to be competing in the NZ Formula First Series,” said Louis. “It will be lots of fun and I’m sure I will learn lots from all the experienced competitors and I look forward to racing on some of New Zealand’s best circuits.”
A full grid of 16 cars is expected to take to the grid at the weekend. While Sharp will be one of seven rookie drivers, the competition will be fierce with both the 2019/20 series runner up Chris Symon and third placed Liam Foster returning for the season ahead.
The 13-year-old kartsport driver is regarded as New Zealand’s most successful age group kartsport driver having won numerous national titles as well as competing overseas in Europe.
In June this year it was announced that Sharp was the second recipient of the Repco Young Driver Scholarship Program. Repco launched the scholarship in conjunction with the Shell V-Power Racing Supercars Team in 2019. Sharp will receive assistance from Repco as well as mentorship from # 12 Ford Mustang driver Fabian Coulthard, who personally selected the talented youngster.
The Formula First series is regarded as one of the best categories for young drivers to gain race experience and has been the starting point in single seaters for the likes of multiple IndyCar Champ winner Scott Dixon, WEC and ex F1 driver Brendon Hartley, current Formula 3 driver Liam Lawson, Supercars driver and latest Bathurst 1000 winner Shane van Gisbergen, Super Formula Series champion and Super GT driver Nick Cassidy and Formula 4 drivers Conrad Clark and Ronan Murphy.
This Friday sees four 15-minute practice sessions leading into qualifying first thing Saturday, race 1 that afternoon followed by two races on Sunday.