Rangiora's Avalon Biddle has taken the Formula 2 Championship lead as she continued her podium run at the second round of the Suzuki International Series at Manfeild last weekend.
Round one championship leader Rogan Chandler took pole position for the Formula 2 races on Sunday. Riding a Yamaha YZF-R6, Chandler posted a lap time of 1.06.807 seconds, an incredible 0.802 seconds quicker than P2 qualifier and championship rival Dale Finch. Zak Fuller, riding for Team Rees Honda, rounded out the front row 1.48 seconds off pole position. The top five grid positions were occupied by five different manufacturers: Yamaha (Rogan Chandler), Triumph (Dale Finch), Honda (Zak Fuller), Kawasaki (Avalon Biddle) and MV Agusta (Dillon Telford).
Race 1 took place in overcast conditions. Dale Finch got the best start from second position on the grid and led into the first corner from Upper Hutt's Rogan Chandler and Auckland's Toby Summers.
By the end of the second lap, the leading two riders had opened a lead of more than two seconds over Fuller, who had passed Summers for third.
As the riders approached mid-race, Biddle passed Summers and moved up to fourth position. The leading pair were over two seconds ahead of third-placed Fuller, who had been caught by Biddle.
Half-way around lap four, there was drama for Finch, who lost the front of his Triumph Daytona at the hairpin and slid out of second position. Fuller was promoted to second and Biddle to third. The battle for second was now between these two riders.
By lap six, Chandler had comfortably increased his lead four seconds over second-placed Fuller and third-placed Biddle.
Chandler controlled the remaining laps from the front, winning comfortably by 5.858 seconds to take his second win of the year.
"I felt really good from the get-go. Once I saw that he (Finch) went down, I kind of just managed it from there." Commented Chandler.
The battle for the second and third position went down to the final half lap. Fuller managed to beat Biddle to the finish by 0.811 seconds.
"I’ve got to try a bit harder to put those boys in their place. I’ve got to say, great riding from Rogan, his pace has been phenomenal all weekend." Commented Biddle after finishing third.
The start of the second eight-lap race saw Avalon Biddle lead out of the first corner ahead of Carl Cox Motorsport's Toby Summers in second. By the commencement of lap two, Rogan Chandler had come through to overtake both riders and pull away from second-placed Biddle and third-placed Finch.
Going into Higgins on lap three, Finch attempted to pass Biddle but ran wide, allowing Biddle some breathing space.
Chandler approached the end of lap three comfortably in the lead, before he made a mistake on the exit of the final corner, crashing out. The battle between Biddle and Finch was now for the win.
Lap five saw Finch pass Biddle for the lead into turn one and immediately pulled away. By the end of lap six, Finch had gapped Biddle by 0.641 seconds. Behind Biddle there was a two-way battle for the final podium spot between Hamilton's, Zak Fuller and Tirau's, Dillon Telford.
Finch started the final lap comfortably in the lead, after steadily increasing his advantage over the last half of the race. Finch won by 1.046 seconds and claimed his second win of the year.
"It feels good to be on top after race two."
MTF Finance sponsored Biddle finished second, commenting on the crash of Chandler:
"I could not believe it, to be honest. He was so fast around that corner. I do not know how he did it, but unfortunately, it caught him out."
Zak Fuller had caught Biddle over the final laps but it was not quite enough. Fuller finished in third just 0.145 seconds behind Biddle.
"I wish I had a couple more laps, then I could have maybe gone for the win,"
After two rounds of the Suzuki International Series, the new Formula 2 Championship leader is Avalon Biddle on 82pts, ahead of Rogan Chandler in second position on 73pts, with Dillon Telford and Toby Summers in third-equal on 68pts.
The final round of the Suzuki International Series heads to Whanganui's famous Cemetery Circuit on the 26th December. The Formula 2 Championship will go down to the wire on the streets of Whanganui, as the top four are covered by just 14pts, drawing us to an epic conclusion to the Championship.
Words: Michael Wincott