Bilinski Blitz Continues With Win Number Six
Roman Bilinski made it victory number six in the 2024 Castrol Toyota Formula Oceania Championship at the Euromarque Motorsport Park in Christchurch, New Zealand this afternoon, showing chief rival Liam Sceats the way home.
The win increased Bilinski’s iron grip on the championship while Sceats was left wondering what he has to do to beat him. American Jacob Abel was an impressive third in his first race on his return to the championship, but the race was all about Bilinski’s dominant drive.
“It was definitely not comfortable particularly with the rain spitting right at the end,” he said afterwards. “Liam has excellent pace, so we’ll have to have a look at what we do to be able to hold him off tomorrow.
“I can’t hold back, there are some great drivers, and I will still need to give everything.”
Bilinski made a great getaway from pole position and led into the first turn but there was drama behind with contact in the pack forcing several cars off into the gravel in a cloud of dust at turn one. Titus Sherlock and Kaden Probst came off worst and were out on the spot, while Bryce Aron ended up towards the back.
The red flag was quickly shown, and a delay followed while the cars were retrieved from the turn one gravel. The race restarted after a couple of laps under the Safety Car and added intrigue was the weather, which now came into play with rain forecast.
Bilinski went early and took a few car lengths from Liam Sceats, Jacob Abel and Kaleb Ngatoa. At the end of the first flying lap – the fourth – Bilinski led from Sceats, Abel, Ngatoa, Alex Crosbie, Gerrard Xie, Patrick Woods-Toth, Michael Shin, Jett Bowling and Landan Matriano-Lim, the latter two having benefitted from the earlier first corner drama.
Bilinski increased his lead over Sceats during the early laps, as the two in turn built a lead over Abel and the rest of a very closely matched pack. MTEC Motorsport’s Abel, meanwhile, had his hands full with Ngatoa but Giles Motorsport’s Hampton Downs feature race winner couldn’t find a way by despite clearly pushing hard in his pursuit of the INDY NXT racer.
At the front, Sceats was up to speed quickly, not allowing Bilinski the luxury of a comfortable lead. By lap ten he was right on his tail, Roman unable to use his greater experience on the Pirelli tyre to gain any obvious advantage. As the laps counted down, Bilinski’s lack of pace at the front became more obvious and Abel and Ngatoa both closed on the leading pair.
With five laps to go, Sceats was testing the championship leader with a great drive and was right in his M2 Competition teammate’s mirrors. The Polish sensation, however, had saved his best and with three to go showed his class with the race’s fastest lap, gaining a vital extra couple of car lengths over the charging Sceats. He did it again a lap later and Sceats could do nothing in reply.
Just behind them, Abel was in turn fighting off both Ngatoa and Crosbie, who both had pace on the American. A few lock-ups demonstrated just how hard Jacob was trying to hold the two Kiwis off.
Bilinski’s masterclass continued over the final two laps, and he took victory number six in this year’s championship. Sceats’ valiant efforts were rewarded with a solid second while Abel managed to hold off Ngatoa, despite some last lap contact. That last lap battle allowed Crosbie to get onto Ngatoa’s gearbox, but Kaleb had done enough and came home ahead by a couple of tenths.
Xie was just over a second behind in sixth, with Kiwi Motorsport’s Woods-Toth a further three seconds back in seventh. Aron made a strong recovery to take ninth while countryman Jett Bowling held on to round out the top ten.
2024 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship certified by FIA – R4 Race 1
|Roman Bilinski (POL)
|Liam Sceats (NZL)
|Jacob Abel (USA)
|Kaleb Ngatoa (NZL)
|Alex Crosbie (NZL)
|Gerrard Xie (CHN)
|Patrick Woods Toth (CAN)
|Michael Shin (KOR)
|Bryce Aron (USA)
|Jett Bowling (USA)
|Landan Matriano Lim (USA)
|Jake Bonilla (USA)
|Lucas Fecury (BRA)
|Titus Sherlock (USA)
|Kaden Probst (NZL)
2024 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship certified by FIA - Events
19-21 January 2024 - Taupo International Motorsport Park – Historic GP event
26-28 January 2024 - Manfeild - Circuit Chris Amon
2-4 February 2024 - Hampton Downs Motorsport Park
9-11 February 2024 – Euromarque Motorsport Park
16-18 February 2024 - Highlands Motorsport Park – 68th New Zealand Grand Prix