Home Featured Bilinski storms from 14th to FRegional Oceania win in changing weather

Bilinski storms from 14th to FRegional Oceania win in changing weather

by Bethonie Waring

Photo: TGR NZ

Roman Bilinski stormed through to victory from 14th on the grid in Formula Regional Oceania race one at Hampton Downs.

The championship leader started towards the back of the grid after a spin in qualifying, but it was not long before he was at the front of the field and pulling away. 

Liam Sceats set the fastest lap and was challenging Bilinski when the clouds above the circuit opened and the race was red flagged due to a sudden storm. 

A similar sudden downpour had occurred during the preceding race at Hampton Downs, but that rain stopped and a dry line had sstarted to form before the FRegional field headed out.

Despite the drying conditions, Kaleb Ngatoa and Kaden Probst – fifth and sixth on the grid respectively – opted for wet weather tyres.

Those initially were the right choice, and the pair made it to the front. However the main mover on lap one was Bilinski, who made up eight places to sixth. He continued to gain, positions while poleman Gerrard Xie and Sceats battled for third. Bilinski was soon eyeing up the duo and forced a way through past both. 

The advantage of wet tyres had quickly disappeared and the rest of the field was able to reel in Ngatoa and Probst. In only a few laps, the pair began to drop backwards, promoting Bilinski into the lead. Probst pitted for dry tyres, but Ngatoa held on to his wets as his team believed more rain was to come. 

Bilinski initially built a gap to Sceats once he got into the lead, but Sceats picked up the pace and closed back in. He attempted to find a way past in what turned out to be the last three laps, but could not quite make a move stick. Although he got alongside into turn one, he slid by turning tightly on the inside line which was now getting wet again as rain returned.

They were almost side-by-side again when the safety car was summoned, then race-ending red flags were waved due to the extremity of the rain.

Nicola Lacorte was running seventh when it began to rain, but was caught out. He ended up stopped on track with front-left wheel damage but kept his position due to the red flags.

Even if the race had restarted to complete the remaining laps, the rain had come too late for Ngatoa. He had been lapped shortly before the safety car came out.

Patrick Woods-Toth was five seconds behind the race leaders when the race ended and finished third, ahead of Xie and Tommy Smith.

Michael Shin started strongly from eighth but was forced wide during the opening lap battles and lost positions. He got quickly back up to pace and sliced through the order to finish sixth. Lucas Fecury made up six places to come home in ninth. 

Race results (15 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Roman Bilinski M2 Competition 23m34.619s
2 Liam Sceats M2 Competition +0.304s
3 Patrick Woods-Toth Kiwi Motorsport +5.556s
4 Gerrard Xie M2 Competition +6.116s
5 Tommy Smith MTEC Motorsport +7.927s
6 Michael Shin M2 Competition +9.119s
7 Nico Lacorte M2 Competition +11.830s
8 Elliott Cleary MTEC Motorsport +42.162s
9 Lucas Fecury MTEC Motorsport +43.312s
10 Landan Matriano Lim Giles Motorsport +45.622s
11 Titus Sherlock Kiwi Motorsport +52.369s
12 Alex Crosbie Giles Motorsport +1 lap
13 Jett Bowling Kiwi Motorsport +1 lap
14 Jake Bonilla Kiwi Motorsport +1 lap
15 Kaleb Ngatoa Giles Motorsport +1 lap
16 Kaden Probst MTEC Motorsport +1 lap
Fastest lap: Sceats, 1m29.887s

Championship standings
1 Bilinski 193   2 Sceats 158   3 Christian Mansell 135   4 Smith 119   5 Ngatoa 114   6 Woods-Toth 108   7 Crosbie 106   8 Xie 104   9 Lacorte 86   10 Shin 86