Home Formula RegionalFRegional Oceania Sceats’ “main goal” is to stay in title fight as rival Bilinski awaits repairs

Sceats’ “main goal” is to stay in title fight as rival Bilinski awaits repairs

by Ida Wood

Photo: TGR NZ

Formula Regional Oceania title rivals Liam Sceats and Roman Bilinski will start at opposite ends of Sunday’s New Zealand Grand Prix grid, but could be close together for Saturday’s race.

Bilinski leads Sceats by 56 points, with 90 available in this weekend’s three races at Highlands Motorsport Park. Sceats starts on race one pole after Bilinski, who topped qualifying’s first segment, copped a three-place grid penalty for bringing out red flags by crashing.

That meant he missed Q2, and therefore did not reach Q3 where the grand prix grid was set. Sceats went fastest for pole, while Bilinski will start down in 13th.

“It’s dissapointing to say the least. I just carried way too much speed into turn two and made a mistake,” Bilinski said of his crash. “It’s my first big mistake of the championship and a shame for it to happen now, but I’ve got a great team who’s working very hard on the car so hopefully we can get out for race one because I’ll be starting P4 and it will be nice to put a close on a difficult championship.”

He thinks M2 Competition will have fixed his car in time for race one, which starts a few hours after qualifying.

“It was both rear corners and rear wing, something like that. I’ve got a team working extremely hard to make sure I get out and I’m sure we will. But we’re going to have to wait and see.”

His team-mate Sceats was “thrilled” with double pole, but was not getting carried away.

“It’s great to be on the best seat in the house for the grand prix. But I’ve already realised that the job’s not done, still got a lot more work to do. So really focused on tomorrow,” Sceats said.

“[Continuing the title fight] is probably the main goal,” he added. “Double pole; I didn’t expect it but it’s a great surprise.”

MTEC Motorsport’s Callum Hedge narrowly missed taking grand prix pole, and team-mate Jacob Abel qualified third.

“It was pretty tight. It’s been pretty hard coming from the jetlag [flying from the USA] and not having a lot of practice, but it’s been good to slot in. Everyone else has had four-and-a-half weeks of driving these cars and it’s good to slot in after a year out of the seat and be right there,” said Hedge.

“It was a bit of a learning curve yesterday, especially getting used to the new Pirelli tyre. It’s very different, the feeling that you get through it, so it took me a few sessions to get on top of it, and then I didn’t quite get the prep right in the final quali run.”

Abel called the qualifying format “super fun”, but “it was super tough, especially because from the first session I had no radio”.

“I had no clue where I was in any of the sessions, so that made it super difficult,” he expanded. “I didn’t know I was third until about 30 seconds ago. So we’ll take it, all things considered.”