Matthew McCutcheon has come away as the early leader in the 2021 NZ Formula Ford Championship after the first round at the weekend.

The first round, held at Waikato’s Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, saw the NZ Formula Ford Championship field join the North Island Formula Ford series’ grid in an effort to consolidate entries and save costs for competitors.

After a successful day’s testing on Saturday, qualifying on Sunday morning was tight at the top of the order. Matthew McCutcheon, making his NZ Formula Ford Championship debut, set the fastest lap of the session, securing pole position. The second fastest was James Penrose who is back for another crack at the title. Penrose was 0.701s slower than McCutcheon, but just 0.069s ahead of third fastest, Zac Christensen.

The opening race, 11-laps in duration, got off to a less than ideal start for the pole sitter, McCutcheon. The rookie was swamped by Penrose, Christensen and Billy Frazer, who rejoined the field fresh off his debut TRS season.

McCutcheon would then have to spend the next few laps working his way back to the front of the field where he battled with Penrose for the lead. Despite McCutcheon having a clear pace advantage, Penrose put up an impressive fight to hold him off, winning the race by just 0.064s over McCutcheon with Frazer in third.

Race two, also 11-laps, would produce similar racing at the pointy end of the field. McCutcheon and Penrose broke away from the field to duke it out for the win. McCutcheon executed some fantastic moves to strike back at Penrose to win by just 0.022s at the line. Penrose would later be penalised five-seconds, but still managed to finish in second ahead of Christensen in third.

Come the final 11-lap race of the weekend, McCutcheon notched up another race win over Penrose. The pair again broke away from the field but kept the gap between them almost indistinguishable. Just 0.032s separated Penrose and the race winner at the line. Frazer finished in third place this time.

Two race wins were enough to put McCutcheon on top overall for the weekend and indeed for the championship points too. Penrose sits close behind in second after tailing close behind McCutcheon in the latter two races. Young rookie Kyan Davie came out third for the round after Christensen failed to make the start of the final race.

The next round of the NZ Formula Ford Championship takes place at Pukekohe Park on March 14, again lining up at part of the North Island Formula Ford series.