Michels Weekend Curtailed

Young Southland racing driver Jordan Michels surreal opportunity to drive at the Australian Grand Prix meeting at Albert Park in Melbourne this weekend was cut short when the entire event was cancelled on Friday.

Michels was entered to drive an S5000 car in one of the support races at the event and drove the car in Thursday’s practice and qualifying session. He qualified twelfth fastest and would have lined up beside former Formula 1 ace, Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, in the first race of the weekend on Friday only for the event to be cancelled due to the COVID–19 virus.

“I was gutted, it was quite bizarre but there a lot of people far worse off than me,” said Jordan on his arrival back to Invercargill over the weekend.

However, despite his short time at the venue Michels was impressed. “It is a great track, amazing, and it was very special to be driving on it. We didn’t have the quickest car on Thursday but we made some pretty big changes overnight and were pretty confident we would be quicker on Friday. We were pretty excited heading to the track on Friday. The TCR cars were on the grid ready to go and then the event was cancelled.”

Michels was scheduled to compete in the second round of the S5000 Championship at Sydney Motorsport Park at the end of the month but now the remainder of his season is a matter of wait and see. “Hopefully I get to pull my helmet on somewhere in the near future,” he said.

Southland’s Jordan Michels To Line Up In Star Studded Grid

Young Southland racing driver Jordan Michels will line up as part of a star studded grid at the Australian Grand Prix meeting at Albert Park in Melbourne this weekend.

Michels will drive a S5000 car in one of the support races at the event. The cars are Australia’s fastest race cars based around the French designed Onroak-Ligier chassis fitted with a 560hp 5 litre Ford V8 engine and a Holinger 6 speed sequential transaxle.

“It is still sinking in and it is all a bit surreal,” said Michels on his return from testing the car in Australia recently. “Australian Greg Woodrow, who used to engineer me in Formula Ford, rang and asked if I would like to drive at the Melbourne Grand Prix. Soon after I was on a plane to Melbourne.”

The drive came about as Woodrow was selling a race transporter to Albert Callegher. Callegher is an Italian with his own racing history and in the course of discussions, Woodrow asked Callegher who his driver was.

“At that stage Albert did not have a driver so Greg recommended me,” says Jordan. “Albert will engineer the car while Greg’s team will run it. Greg and I have had a very good friendship from the beginning of our time in motorsport together and even when we ran ourselves I was on phone to him quite a lot so it is quite cool the two of us can do this together.”

Jordan Michels testing the S5000 he will race at the Australian Grand Prix meeting this weekend. photo: Fast Pace Media

The field contesting the races at the Grand Prix is stunning including former Formula 1 drivers Rubens Barrichello and Giancarlo Fisichella plus current Bathurst Champ and former GP2 racer Alexandre Premat of France and current Williams Formula 1 test and reserve driver Jack Aitken. Barrichello won eleven Formula 1 Grand Prix races and Fischella three, including one at Albert Park.

“It is a quality field and when I was playing Formula 1 games on Xbox you would never imagine you would one day have the chance to race with some of the greats. The drivers on the grid are of a very high standard and the cars are hard to drive so it will be quite a challenge.”

Michels tested at Winton Motor Raceway and Tailem Bend in preparation for the drive. “The car is a handful. It has plenty of horsepower, you’re doing 280 km/h at the end of the straight at Tailem Bend and you have to stop it wheel spinning all the time. The acceleration is phenomenal.”

Practice and qualifying takes place on Thursday followed by a race each day. Friday and Saturday are qualifying races before the feature on Sunday for the Alan Jones Cup.

“Without a doubt the Grand Prix crowd will be the biggest I have ever raced in front of but once you get the helmet on and roll out it’s like anywhere else although I am looking forward to the environment. It’s probably the first time a Southlander has raced at a Formula 1 Grand Prix meeting. Albert Park is an exciting circuit and I know which way the corners go. I biked around the circuit recently with Tommy Smith who we ran in Formula Ford in New Zealand a couple of seasons ago. It was surreal. Tommy raced there last year and he has given me some advice.”

 

Southland’s Jordan Michels Takes New Zealand Endurance Championship Class Title

Just two weeks after sealing the Class B title in the Carter’s Tyre Service South Island 1 Hour Endurance Series, Invercargill racing driver Jordan Michels has added the Class 2 New Zealand 1 Hour Endurance Championship title to his 2019 achievements.

The championship was fought out over a single race at the Hampton Downs circuit in North Waikato on Saturday and Michels took his Team Williams Racing Honda Civic Fk7 TCR car to victory in the class as well as an impressive seventh overall.

It was the young Southlander’s second New Zealand Championship title of the year as he also scored a stunning victory in the NZF1600 Championship just a few kilometres away at Pukekohe Park Raceway in March in what is becoming a stellar year for Michels.

The race took place on the longer international circuit at the Hampton Downs layout and it was the team’s first opportunity to run there. “Jason Leifting, my engineer, was back and he had a good approach to the track,” said Michels after his success. “On Friday we tried a few new things and we continued learning more about the car. Qualifying on Saturday was strong and the race was faultless, the car was the best it has been all year. We were hunting down a Porsche near the end in the overall standings but ran out of time.”

Michels was quick to thank Peter Williams and his family who have provided the car for Jordan this season. He also praised his Evolution Motorsport crew as well as engineer Jason Leifting who has engineered Michels to both his New Zealand titles.

Michels and his team now turn their attention to the new TCR New Zealand Championship that will commence at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell over the weekend of 18/19 January next year. However in the intervening weeks the team has a lot to do. “We have quite a bit to do to turn the car around for the series,” says Jordan. “The team will pull the car down which will enable them to get familiar with it while I work on my fitness after a broken collarbone recently. Hopefully we will get a few test days in as well.”

Michels South Island Champion In His Class

After a sensational few weeks in his new Team Williams Racing Honda Civic Fk7 TCR car, Invercargill driver Jordan Michels has taken the Class B Championship in the Carter’s Tyre Service 1 Hour South Island Endurance Series.

Michels achieved the feat by winning the class in the first three rounds of the series at Teretonga Park, Highlands Motorsport Park and Timaru International Motor Raceway before brake problems at the final round in Christchurch prevented the clean sweep. However he took the class title for the series and in turn qualified for the New Zealand Endurance Championship at Hampton Downs in North Waikato on Saturday 16 November.

While Michels results might suggest a trouble-free series, the reality was far from that. Four and a half weeks prior to the opening round he broke his collarbone and it was touch and go whether he would even make the startline for the opening round. He did but was still in a fair degree of pain and discomfort during the series.

Despite that the opening race at Teretonga Park went well, the only problem coming late in the race when the splitter brackets snapped causing the splitter to drag. However, Michels cruised to the finish to take victory in Class B and finish seventh overall.

Just two weeks later Michels had his first ever laps at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell at Round 2 of the series. Radio issues meant Michels missed the pit window and started from the pit lane. He carved his way through the field, keeping his nose clean throughout. After his scheduled pit stop a safety car appeared which disadvantaged him but not enough to stop him from winning the class and finishing thirteenth overall.

Round 3 at Timaru was one Michels was looking forward to as he has had much success there. After a strong qualifying, he was first in class and relatively high up the grid overall. Traffic was the biggest factor in the race but it turned out to be an area where Michels was strong. Michels did exceptionally well passing some of the bigger, more powerful cars in the race and was running strongly when his power steering overheated, pitching him off the end of the back straight at 200km/h. He gathered it up but without power steering in a front-wheel drive car, he had to work hard to bring the car home, finally crossing the line first in class and twelfth place overall despite suffering real pain towards the end of the race. He was now three from three in the class and holding a 25-point lead with one round to go.

Two weeks later the final round took place at Mike Pero Motorsport Park at Ruapuna in Christchurch.

After taking pole position in the class by 3 seconds in ninth overall Michels made a strong start to the race, moving up a few spots until the brake pedal started getting softer. The situation got worse and a couple of pit stops were required, dropping Michels to sixth in class. More importantly, though he was still able to clinch the South Island title by 1 point.

Michels Enthused After TCR Round In Australia

Jordan Michels of Invercargill has returned from his initial outing in the carsales TCR Australia Series at Queensland Raceway full of enthusiasm.

Michels had received a last minute opportunity to drive a Wall Racing Honda Civic Type R and impressed despite battling illness part of the weekend.

Michels had introduced himself to Wall Racing Team Manager, David Fyfe at the TCR launch in New Zealand and shortly afterwards Fyfe rang offering a drive. Six days later Michels was on a plane to Australia.

Race weekend started with a 7am track walk on Friday where Michels met his engineer with whom he instantly got on well and one of his team mates – DJR Team Penske endurance star Tony D’Alberto who gave plenty of tips. Two practice sessions followed – Michels chipping away as he got to grips with a new circuit, team and car. “I took a lot away from the team debriefs with Tony and John Martin” (Jordan’s other vastly experienced team mate).

After qualifying 15th on Saturday Jordan had to master the start procedure in a TCR car for the first time. “It’s complicated – you have to co-ordinate the clutch, handbrake and launch control.”

The start was not a bad one and Michels settled into a good drive. A small mistake during the race cost him but his lap times were good and he was eventually classified 11th in a pleasing debut.

Michels was not feeling well by the end of the day and when Sunday dawned he had a fever but armed with Panadol he rolled up for the two Sunday races. Once again he had a good race, dicing with Jason Bright eventually getting the better of him and chasing Alex Rullo hard before the car lost front grip, a legacy of a slightly deflating tyre leaving him twelfth. Michels was “super stoked” particularly when he found his lap times were now only half a tenth of a second off D’Alberto’s best. Race three followed almost immediately as Jordan had another good race battling with Bright and Aaron Seton to again finish twelfth.

Michels was full of praise for the team. “There was a good vibe similar to our team at home. They picked us up from the airport and provided amazing hospitality. My team mates Tony and John were really approachable, friendly and welcoming. Best of all, my Dad Rick, was able to be there. We set off on our motor racing journey together 10 or 11 years ago and it was great to share the moment with him.

Invercargill’s Jordan Michels To Tackle TCR Round In Australia

Current NZ F1600 Champion Jordan Michels of Invercargill has been signed by Wall Racing of Australia to drive its third Honda Civic Type R at Round 4 of the carsales TCR Australia Series at Queensland Raceway in Ipswich this weekend.

“It’s very exciting. It’s all a bit last minute, but I’m genuinely looking forward to the weekend,” said Michels. “The amount of hype around the category has been unreal, so to have an opportunity to be on the grid is just amazing.

“I’ve done a couple of races in a Hyundai TCR in New Zealand, so I have a few miles in a TCR car, but they were different circumstances, completely different tyre, so this weekend will still be a steep learning curve.

“The opportunity to be a part of Wall Racing in this category is awesome, so I want to soak it all up, enjoy the experience and see how we go.”

Michels will join the other two Honda Civics of Tony D’Alberto and recent race winner John Martin for the TCR category’s debut at the Ipswich venue.

“At this stage, it’s just a one-off, but we are keen to see how Jordan goes in our car and the series,” said David Wall from Wall Racing Honda. “He has been racing a TCR car in New Zealand and has been doing well in the endurance series over there. We met Jordan at the launch of TCR New Zealand. He had a long discussion with (Wall Racing team manager) David Fyfe and we all felt that he’d be a good addition for our team.”

Round 4 of the carsales TCR Australia Series at Queensland Raceway kicks off with two practice sessions on Friday, followed by qualifying and Race 1 on Saturday and two 30 minutes races on Sunday.

TCR cars are an exciting worldwide formula conceived in 2014 and there are now series around the world. A New Zealand Series is due to start in January. The cars are front wheel drive hatchbacks or sedans powered by production based turbocharged petrol or diesel engines up to 2 litres.

Southland’s Jordan Michels Scores Another Win

Invercargill driver Jordan Michels has backed up his class win in the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series at Pukekohe Park Raceway last month with another class win at the final round of the series at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park last weekend.

Michels, the current NZ F1600 Champion, had received a late call up to drive the Racer Products Hyundai i130 N TCR car alongside Gene Rollinson last month and acquitted himself so well as the pairing took a class win and sixth overall that he was invited to stay with the team for the final round.

“It was nice to have more notice this time,” said Michels as he reflected on his weekend. “The Racer Products team had sorted out a few teething problems from the previous round after a full rebuild of the car which was virtually straight out of the container last time out.” The weather was mixed throughout the weekend and Michels got in about 15 laps late in Friday’s test sessions. The track was drying and Michels was learning the track, his only previous laps at the North Waikato circuit being in a recent TRS test at the venue. “My last lap was quite fast, very close to NZV8 times so I was really happy.”

Rollinson took the wheel for the first qualifying session on Saturday morning with Michels driving in the second, the Hyundai eventually setting a time good enough for 11th on the grid. “We used Hankook wet tyres for qualifying but decided to go for Pirelli hard tyres for the start of the race with the track still wet. It was decided I would start the race but unfortunately, our tyre choice was a pretty bad call. Our main class rivals John McIntyre/Matt Penny in a Honda were using soft Michelins and my stint became an exercise in damage control,” says Michels. “It was a tough stint. I couldn’t find front grip and had no traction out of corners. The windscreen wipers stopped working too, so it was a very tough hour.”

However, Michels managed to stay in reasonable touch with the McIntyre/Penny car and at the pit stops Rollinson took over while Penny took over the McIntyre car. The track started to dry and Rollinson, on the same tyre which was better suited to the conditions, clawed back time before the McIntyre/Penny car pitted for slicks. “We pitted to cover them and resumed directly behind. After the safety car made an appearance Rollinson managed the pass to take the class lead and the win in a fine fifth place overall.

“It was nice to get two from two,” said Michels on transit back to Invercargill the day after the race. “Gene’s stint was awesome and the two cars were very close after 3 hours – it shows what we are in for when the new TCR series starts in the summer.”

NOTE:

TCR cars are an exciting worldwide formula conceived in 2014 and there are now series around the world. A New Zealand Series is due to start in January. The cars are front wheel drive hatchbacks or sedans powered by production based turbocharged petrol or diesel engines up to 2 litres.

 

Michels Makes Most Of Opportunity

When his phone rang last Wednesday evening little did Invercargill racing driver Jordan Michels know the opportunity that was about to present itself.

On the line was Mark Petch offering Michels, the recently crowned NZ F1600 Champion, a drive of his Hyundai i130 N TCR car in the second round of the North Island Endurance Series at Pukekohe Park Raceway that weekend.

Three days later Michels and Gene Rollinson of Auckland won their class in the race and finished sixth overall in a giant killing performance.

“When the call came naturally I wanted to say yes straight away but there was the small matter of work to attend to. I rang my boss and he was really good and appreciated an offer like this may not come again.” said Michels.

TCR cars are an exciting worldwide formula conceived in 2014 and there are now series around the world. A New Zealand Series is due to start in January. The cars are front wheel drive hatchbacks or sedans powered by production based turbocharged petrol or diesel engines up to 2 litres.

Michels got his first run in the Hyundai on Friday getting about 30 laps across two practice sessions. First impressions were the torque-steer of the car on gear changes, a legacy of being a front wheel drive, “something new for me being more familiar with open wheel race cars. In fact I think the last time I drove a front wheel drive car was when I had my learners licence,” he joked. However the recent test of a TRS car had given him time in a car that required left foot braking and with a paddle gear shift so that definitely helped him to adjust to those features in the Hyundai.

“By the end of the day I was comfortable in the car. I had good pace and I was competitive and able to run at a pace that would look after the tyres for a one and a half hour stint in the race.”

Michels did minimal laps in qualifying as the first session was wet. “It just wasn’t worth the risk,” he said.

When race time rolled around, Rollinson made a terrific start and drove consistently well and was fourth overall and leading the class at the handover pitstop. Unfortunately the left front air gun failed and time was lost but Michels managed to resume still in the lead of the class although the margin was severely diminished.

“From the start of my stint I worked away at consistently improving my times, getting them as close to Gene’s as I could. I really enjoyed my hour, it was a great stint,” said Michels. “There was a big sprint at the end after a safety car period and due to the duration of the race everyone’s tyres and brakes had faded by then. We came home sixth overall and first in our class. The pace of the car was fantastic and we punched above our weight. There is huge interest in the TCR cars and it was a fantastic opportunity and thanks to Mark for the drive and also to Gene. He is very experienced and he was a great driver coach, giving me plenty of tips.”

“It was great to drive the newest TCR car in the country and become one of the few kiwi drivers to have done so. To put the icing on the cake the result was brilliant.”

The impressive result has gained Michels an invite to drive the car in the final round of the series at Hampton Downs on 8 June.

Southland’s Jordan Michels To Feature In TRS Test

2018-2019 New Zealand F1600 champion Southland’s Jordan Michels will test the Toyota FT-50 chassis this coming Tuesday as a group of young Kiwi racers try their hand in the country’s premier single seater series car.

The test is part of the youngster’s prize for winning the F1600 championship and the Invercargill racer will be joined on the one day test by a number of other up and coming New Zealand drivers.

The test is supported by the Kiwi Driver Fund, which has funded hire of the Hampton Downs Motorsport Park facility for the entire day to make the test as accessible as possible for the young drivers.

Michels will test the car for half a day and is excited about the prospect, commenting: “First of all it’s really a fantastic opportunity that Toyota Racing and the Kiwi Driver Fund have made this test possible for a number of drivers, because opportunities like this in current downforce cars are very hard to come by.

“It’s going to be a big jump from a Formula 1600 car for sure, but I think we will all be looking forward to seeing just how big a jump. I know I am and it will be a good indicator of where I am.”

The Castrol Toyota Racing Series is New Zealand’s premier single seater category. Photo: Bruce Jenkins.

Five drivers will enjoy some time on the circuit simulator before hopping into the Toyota for their test sessions, which will be overseen by experienced technicians from Toyota Racing New Zealand.

The Toyota Racing Series has been New Zealand’s only international single seater championship for 15 years and runs for five consecutive weekends in January and February culminating in the New Zealand Grand Prix.

No fewer than thirteen graduates of the series have now made it to Formula One as race or test drivers. The series has the added bonus of being the only one in the world at that time of year to offer FIA Super Licence points for up and coming drivers aiming for Formula One.

Southland’s Jordan Michels Takes National Title

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 and in a battle that came down to the last lap of the season ended the day as the new NZ Formula 1600 Champion.

It was far from plain sailing as on Saturday in testing Michels and the Hydraulink/Hicks Bros Mygale run by Evolution Motorsport were pitched into a wall at the 200km/h turn 1 at Pukekohe, causing a massive amount of damage to the car. However a late night had the car ready for qualifying on Sunday with Jordan setting the fourth fastest time. However title rival Bethune secured pole position adding two bonus points to his points tally and increasing his lead to 5 points. Michels worked his way forward to second place in the first of the three races but with Bethune winning the race the points lead had extended to ten points with two races remaining.

The second race of the round 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.

Jordan Michels (#23 Hydraulink/Hicks Bros Mygale) in the heat of battle at Pukekohe Park Raceway. photo: Geoff Ridder

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, “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.”

In sealing the title Michels joins names such as Scott Dixon, Shane Van Gisbergen and Liam Lawson – all past champions.