James Penrose (main photo) is the 2021 New Zealand Formula Ford Champion after a perfect final round for the Cantabrian, as part of the Formula Ford Festival in Christchurch. Pole position and three races wins at his home track, the Mike Pero Motorsport Park, handed the title to Penrose (Van Diemen Stealth) after an epic season-long battle with runner up Aucklander Matthew McCutheon.
McCutcheon (Van Diemen RF93) had the advantage heading to Christchurch, leading by 20-points, after winning four of the first six races and finishing second in the other two, all on North Island tracks. Penrose had won two races and finished second to McCutcheon in the other four.
“I just can’t explain the feeling,” commented Penrose. “It’s been such a good season with Matty (McCutheon), one of the hardest racers I have competed against. I was just so happy when I crossed that line and just so thankful for the work my father (Tom) and the sponsors have put in over the season.”
Penrose initially stamped his authority on the one-day meeting setting fastest time in qualifying while McCutheon, racing for the first time in Christchurch, was on the back-foot, starting ninth on the grid. Penrose went on to win the first race from Zac Christensen (Ray G20) and Blake Evans (Mygale SJ12011A).
Setting the fastest lap time in the opening race gave McCutheon pole position for the second race. Penrose got the jump at the start and led McCutcheon home from Turn 1 for his second win of the day. Third was Blake Evans ahead of Christensen and a hard charging Jacob Douglas (Van Diemen RF91).
McCutcheon was on pole for the final 10-lap race and again, Penrose took the lead on the first lap with a ‘never-giving-up’ McCutcheon chasing him down to the chequered flag. Third home was Christensen ahead of Douglas and Evans.
“Home advantage made it easier,” said Penrose. “For me it was about being the fast as I could the whole time and I was happy with my pace and the consistency. Matty challenged me the whole way but I was able to knock out consistent fast laps.”
“I was trying to give it a go right to the last lap,” said McCutheon. “James has done a good job here today. We were both banging out fast laps after lap. I’ve learned so much this season and can’t thank the team enough.”