2015 SEASON REVIEW: AVON TYRES FORMULA FORD 1600 CHAMPIONSHIPS
Jonny McMullan was one FF1600 driver who enjoyed plenty of Championship success – Photo: Rachel Bourne
This was the best season in a while for the various Avon Tyres Formula Ford 1600 Championships and things are only going to get better in 2016 with a place in the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout on offer to the winner of the National title.
Back to 2015 and a number of circuits that the National Championship hadn’t visited in recent years were added to the schedule – this change was very much welcomed by drivers and fans alike.
Things got underway with 2 races around Silverstone’s International configuration on Easter Sunday. These were both won by Joey Foster – with a high quality field filling his mirrors – before he moved on to other things which included LMP3.
It was then Montreal’s Patrick Dussault who was the fastest driver in the category despite it being only his second full season in any form of motorsport. The Canadian steered his Ray GR13/14, which was prepared by Cliff Dempsey Racing, to four victories at the Donington and Oulton Park Double Headers although one of these was taken away due to Track Limit infringements.
The rounds in Derbyshire also marked the beginning of the Triple Crown series which comprised 6 races at Donington Park, Brands Hatch and back at Silverstone on the National layout.
Having been excluded from the second encounter at Donington Park, Dussault’s season suffered a further set-back when contact with another car put him out of the first race at Brands Hatch. As this contest decided the second grid later in the day, it cost him dearly and the initiative was seized by Jonny McMullan.
McMullan was driving a Bernard Dolan tended Van Diemen LA10 that was his prize for winning the 2014 Dunlop/Motorsport Ireland Young Driver of the Year accolade. He followed his brace of wins in Kent with another in the opener at Castle Combe befofore Dussault returned to his winning ways at the second time of asking in Wiltshire where this pair were in a class of their own and never more than a few feet apart.
The finale of the Triple Crown on Silverstone’s National Circuit was a dress rehearsal for the Walter Hayes Trophy and attracted an excellent entry. James Raven (Ray GR13/14) had his first Formula Ford outing since scooping the 2014 Festival and would have taken 2 victories had Track Limit penalties not handed the first set of spoils to Stephen Daly (Ray GR11).
Further down the order, Dussault twice finished ahead of McMullan but the Northern Irishman still took the Triple Crown.
Now McMullan turned his attention to adding the National Championship to his CV. Having played it safe and twice shadowed Dussault across the line in treacherous conditions at Knockhill he wrapped up the title in majestic style on the Anglesey Coastal Circuit where he was the fastest man every time the cars took to the track, taking a brace of dominant victories in the process.
A little further down the order, Thomas Capezzone gained speed all year in his second season behind the wheel of a Cooper Racing Swift SC10 while team mate Luke Cooper finished fourth in the National standings with a Class B Swift SC92. Luke Williams’ Ray GR13 was regularly in the thick of things and Chris Middlehurst scored the first win anywhere in the World for the Mygale GV15K at Donington Park but broke his leg in a testing accident later in the season.
Tom McArthur stepped up a gear in 2015. Behind the wheel of a Van Diemen LA10 fielded by B-M Racing in their debut season he took third in the National series and won the Northern Championship ahead of his brother, David, who was also his team mate. The latter had set up B-M Racing in conjunction with ace mechanic, Andy Brickles.
Tom came into Oulton Park’s final pair of Northern rounds with a narrow advantage at the top of the points standings after a nightmare month of May put David on the back foot for the rest of the campaign.
A crash in pre-event testing at Donington Park meant the elder sibling had a down on power engine for the races at the track adjacent to East Midlands Airport and then in both Oulton rounds on 23rd May David left the tarmac at a high rate of knots after contact with another competitor in identical incidents at Island Bend.
It was Tom’s turn to endure misfortune in the final qualifying session of the season when a throttle problem prevented him from completing a lap. This meant he had to start both races from the back of the grid.
Fortunately, during the course of the first 20 minute encounter he was able to work his way up the order and latch on to the back of the leaders to take fourth. Later in the day, with David struggling on worn tyres, Tom took the chequered flag as runner-up to claim the Northern Crown by 11 points.
Both these final rounds were won by Doug Crosbie who was right on the pace once he had got to grips with the Van Diemen JL13 that he acquired prior to the start of the Championship. An indication of his late season pace was that he clinched the Star of Anglesey title. This series did not get underway until August
The Champion of Oulton was won by Josh Fisher in a 1999 Van Diemen prepared by Wayne Poole Racing. He concentrated on this single venue series and achieved his goal after some epic dices with the McArthur brothers and Crosbie.
The Pre90 Class was all about Jamie Jardine and Matthew Cowley. Having won every BRSCC Formula Ford 1600 series available to him in 2014, Jardine sold his Reynard 84FF and switched to a similar chassis that Dave Hart built-up over the Winter. The Cheshire driver had a slow start to his multi-title defence as he settled in to his new steed but he just got faster during the course of the year.
Unfortunately for him, so did Cowley as he made massive strides in his development as a racing driver in only his second full season in cars behind the wheel of a Reynard 88FF. Jardine took the Triple Crown after Cowley crashed in the final round when all he had to do was finish the race. The Mancunian learnt from that experience so and no mistakes were made in clinching the National and Northern titles.
Cowley also finished level with Calum McHale in the Pre90 Champion of Oulton standings but lost out on a tie-break which went down to the number of fourth place finishes. McHale became a race winner for the first time in 2015 with the ex-Chris Hodgen Van Diemen RF89 which was another to be run by Wayne Poole this year. He so very nearly threw away the title when he spun on the final lap of the final round but recovered to crucially take the flag in third.
Wayne Boyd took the 40th Formula Ford Festival to be held at Brands Hatch. He accomplished the feat in some style behind wheel of a Medina Sport Van Diemen while the season concluded at Anglesey in late November with Jake Byrne taking home no less than four trophies. Three of which were named in honour of Colin “Moose” Benn, Bernard Baxter and Brian Linley while a fourth was supplied by Wallpaper Central. The Pre90 version of the latter went to Matthew Cowley to add to his collection of silverware.