Variable weather at Phillip Island helped set the stage for a thrilling penultimate round of the 2018 Australian Formula Ford Championship. Sonic Motor Racing Services driver Hamish Ribarits claimed his second round win of the season, ahead of BF Racing's Nathan Herne and privateer Zac Soutar.
On Saturday, the Mildura-based teenager started race one from pole position, equalling his team-mate Hunter McElrea with 3 pole positions in 2018. McElrea was quick to strike back, winning race one to take his 12th win for the year. Ribarits had to fight it out in a typical Formula Ford pack, eventually crossing the line in fourth position, behind McElrea, Soutar and Herne.
McElrea's title chances took a sudden dive, after a collision during the opening lap of race two resulted in the Eximm Mygale damaged and unable to continue. After a safety car period, Ribarits, Herne and Soutar battled for the win. On the final lap, Ribarits and Herne ran to the chequered flag side by side, with Herne crossing the line just two hundredths of a second behind Ribarits. Soutar followed the duo by a mere three tenths.
Race three was one of the best races of the year, with clean racing and plenty of action throughout the field. Ribarits and Herne enjoyed another sprint to the finish line, with the Sonic driver crossing the line two tenths of a second ahead of the BF Racing driver. Zac Soutar had a race-long slip streaming exchange with Tom Sargent, eventually getting the better of him to take third.
"I’m stoked, the team at Sonic Motor Racing Services gave me a great car all weekend. The team worked really hard as always and provided me a car that could deliver a win," said Ribarits at the conclusion of the weekend.
"The racing was really close within the field and the tow came into play massively, as expected, and I enjoyed some awesome battles all weekend."
This round win has tightened the points gap between Sonic Motor Racing Services team-mates McElrea and Ribarits, with the Mildura-based driver now sitting just 11 points adrift of the current championship leader, with just a single round remaining in the 2018 season.
"I’m not trying to think about the championship at this stage, there’s still another round to go, but the championship is certainly closing in and we’ve just to keep pushing and collecting good points," said round winner, Ribarits.
CHE Racing driver Tom Sargent received the CHI Hard Charger Award for demonstrating front-running pace at only his first appearance at Phillip Island. Sargent qualified 13th on Saturday and was battling with Soutar for a podium finish in race three.
Ribarits and Herne received the Shell V-Power Awards for the weekend. This was Herne's first podium at National level, an additional celebration for the Lismore local, who was also crowned 2018 Victorian Formula Ford Champion.
"It’s been a great weekend to take away both my first national round podium and the Victorian state championship," said Herne at the end of the weekend.
"We managed to take home second for the round after qualifying tenth, and just got pipped at the line for the win in both race two and three after some tough racing. Unfortunately, we couldn’t come out with the round win but we’ll come back at Sydney and go for it again."
The 2018 Australian Formula Ford Championship finale will be held at Sydney Motorsport Park on October 26th-28th.
2018 AFFC Calendar
Rd 1 - Winton Motor Raceway - March 9-11
Rd 2 - Queensland Raceway - April 20-22*
Rd 3 - Wakefield Park - May 25-27
Rd 4 - Sandown Raceway - July 20-22*
Rd 5 - The Bend Motorsport Park - August 24-26
Rd 6 - Phillip Island - September 28-30
Rd 7 - Sydney Motorsport Park - October 26-28*
*rounds of the 2018 Australian Formula Ford 1600 Championship
2018 AFFC STANDINGS (Top 10)
Hunter McElrea - 278 pts
Hamish Ribarits - 267 pts
Zac Soutar - 209 pts
Nathan Herne - 186 pts
Liam McLellan - 158 pts
Lachlan Mineeff - 142
Angelo Mouzouris - 127 pts
Cody Donald - 116 pts
Cameron Shields - 108 pts
Bart Horsten - 101 pts