INVERCARGILL driver Jordan Michels has won the 2018/2019 New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship.
Michels went into the final round at Pukekohe Park Raceway, south of Auckland, on Sunday, just three points behind championship leader Josh Bethune, of Auckland. In a battle that came down to the last lap of the season, Michels ended the day as the champion.
It was far from plain sailing, as in testing on Saturday, Michels pitched his Hydraulink/Hicks Bros Mygale, run by Evolution Motorsport, into a wall at the 200km/h first turn at Pukekohe, causing massive damage to the car.
However, a late-night scramble to repair the damage had the car ready for qualifying on Sunday with Michels setting the fourth-fastest time.
Title rival Bethune secured pole position, adding two bonus points to his tally and increasing his lead to five points. Michels worked his way forward to second in the first of the three races but, with Bethune winning the race, his lead extended to 10 with two races to go.
The second race saw a huge scrap with Michels again bringing the Hydraulink/Hicks Bros Mygale home second, this time ahead of Bethune after a big move and, with one race left, the margin was just six points.
Michels described the final race of the season as “tough”.
“It was a 12-lap dogfight. A good street fight. I was behind Josh on the last lap and I decided to have a big go but before I could he made contact with another car and was unloaded into the wall. I crossed the line second and became the champion and I have never fist pumped so hard.”
Michels was quick to thank his parents and sister because “they have given up so much for my racing. Also to the rest of my crew – race engineer Jase plus Jeremy and William. They have been superb. I wouldn’t be here without them or the generous support of my sponsors and supporters. I’ve been dreaming of this for 21 years and now I’ve achieved it, I am lost for words. I am just over the moon.”
Michels has not ironed out what will happen next season or what his plans are. “I have got plenty of hopes and dreams, but I don’t have a lot locked in.”
He said he was looking at a couple of options, but motorsport was expensive.
“We will have to work out what’s next from here. Unfortunately, no Formula One deal is on the cards just yet.”