Crosbie impresses in Grand Prix

Alex Crosbie racing at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell last weekend. PHOTO: TAYLER BURKE
Alex Crosbie racing at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell last weekend. PHOTO: TAYLER BURKE
Invercargill racing driver Alex Crosbie ended his campaign in the 2024 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship with a seventh place in his first New Zealand Grand Prix at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell last Sunday.

His results meant Crosbie finished the championship, which attracts drivers from around the world, in fifth overall and second in the Rookie Championship.

The 17-year-old Southlander qualified an impressive fifth for the race after an incident-packed, three-part, qualifying session on Saturday. The first segment saw drivers establish their grid spots for Saturday afternoon’s race with the bottom five eliminated from the next sessions that would determine qualifying for the Grand Prix. Two red flags interrupted the first segment and Crosbie got only one or two laps but it was good enough for the ninth-fastest time. He was promoted to eighth after team-mate Kaleb Ngatoa crashed, ending his weekend.

Crosbie went into the second part of qualifying on old tyres and set the eighth-fastest time which put him into the final segment to establish the top eight starters for the Grand Prix. Armed with new tyres, his time was good enough for fifth on the grid, — and just .323 of a second off pole.

Before the Grand Prix, Crosbie had two races. In the first on Saturday afternoon, he went from eighth on the grid into seventh before the second corner. Later in the lap he was passed by one car before being put wide by another on the inside.

"I didn’t back off enough and went over the kerb and the car leapt in the air. It was a heavy landing. I got winded and got a shock in the back and lost a few positions but gained two spots back before the end of the race to end up 13th."

The impact of the landing meant Crosbie’s team worked through the night to put a new tub in the car. The tub is basically the core of a race car. In the Sunday morning race, he finished 12th.

The Grand Prix wrapped up the series and from fifth place Crosbie moved up to fourth, only for him and the car in front to be caught out by some stones on the track, sending both wide. From then on, he held seventh for much of the rest of the race, staving off challenges, firstly from Canadian Patrick Woods-Toth and then Australian Ryder Quinn.

Crosbie secured some good results and experience from good racing over the five-weekend series and said he "learned heaps".

"It was very different and a fun environment."

Support for Crosbie’s campaign in the Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship came from Stresscrete Southland Ltd, the Peter H McMillan Legacy Fund, Golden Homes in the Southern Lakes, Rodin Cars, Kiwi Driver Fund, Crosbie’s grandparents, MotorSport New Zealand, Hamilton Brothers Building, Blacks Fasteners Ltd, Invercargill Oil Shop and Invercargill Hose & Hydraulics.

 - By Lindsay Beer