Laurens van Hoepen held off Louis Foster to win the 2023 New Zealand Grand Prix, part of the Formula Regional Oceania championship.
Van Hoepen led for the majority of the 28-lap race with a comfortable lead over Foster before a late charge from the British driver. It wasn’t enough to close in on van Hoepen, though, and he finished 0.8 seconds behind.
It was Foster who led the race after the first corner. The Brit got a better start than pole-sitting van Hoepen and came around the outside at turn one. The order didn’t last long, though, with van Hoepen coming back later in the lap to retake the lead.
In the opening laps, the top two ran together, but van Hoepen gradually pulled out a lead to Foster, at one point 1.8s ahead of the USF Pro 2000 champion.
Foster picked up the pace late in the race and started to close the gap, but didn’t have enough to challenge van Hoepen for victory.
The battle for third was equally tense. Callum Hedge took the position on lap one, but couldn’t shake Kaleb Ngatoa. As the leaders continued to pull away at the front of the field, Hedge came under increasing pressure from Ngatoa and Chris van der Drift.
Hedge didn’t put a wheel wrong though, and it was Ngatoa who made a mistake first. A lock-up led to slight contact with Hedge, causing a small amount of damage to his front wing. A few corners later, Ngatoa dipped a wheel onto the grass, allowing van der Drift to come through.
The small mistake allowed Hedge to break away a little, and it was van der Drift leading a train of drivers fighting for fourth.
Ngatoa found a way past van der Drift and closed back onto the tail of Hedge late on. He still wasn’t able to make a move on him though, finishing 0.561s behind.
Van der Drift finished fifth, just ahead of Liam Sceats, championship leader Charlie Wurz and Jacob Abel, a trio he passed with a strong opening lap.
David Morales and Ryder Quinn completed the top 10 in an otherwise incident-free return of the grand prix after it was cancelled in 2022.
Race results (28 laps)
|1||Lauren van Hoepen||M2 Competition||42m16.570s|
|2||Louis Foster||Giles Motorsport||+0.846s|
|3||Callum Hedge||M2 Competition||+12.329s|
|4||Chris van der Drift||Hamilton Motorsport||+12.673s|
|5||Kaleb Ngatoa||Giles Motorsport||+14.923s|
|6||Adam Fitzgerald||Giles Motorsport||+15.525s|
|7||Liam Sceats||M2 Competition||+16.173s|
|8||Jacob Abel||Kiwi Motorsport||+16.604s|
|9||David Morales||M2 Competition||+17.499s|
|10||Ryder Quinn||M2 Competition||+18.051s|
|11||Ryan Shehan||Giles Motorsport||+23.107s|
|12||Josh Mason||Kiwi Motorsport||+24.859s|
|13||James Penrose||Kiwi Motorsport||+26.756s|
|14||Brendon Leitch||Kiwi Motorsport||+28.049s|
|15||Billy Frazer||Hamilton Motorsport||+32.652s|
|16||Adam Fitzgerald||Giles Motorsport||+36.056s|
|17||Chloe Chambers||Giles Motorsport||+36.342s|
|18||Bree Morris||Giles Motorsport||+47.490s|
|19||Lucas Fecury||Kiwi Motorsport||+48.132s|
|Fastest lap: van Hoepen, 1m30.061s