2017 SEASON REVIEW: BRITCOVER/ AVON TYRES FORMULA FORD 1600
The Britcover National Formula Ford 1600 Championship with Avon Tyres went from strength to strength in 2017 featuring host of talented drivers who were attracted by the extensive TV coverage vying for victory in each round. Attention will be even greater in 2018 when the country’s premier Formula Ford 1600 series joins the TCR UK package.
Aside from its high media profile, the championship provides a potentially career-changing prize with whoever wins the title being offered a place in the end of season Mazda Road to Indy Shootout (subject to eligibility criteria) for the chance of a scholarship worth US$200,000 to compete in the 2019 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda.
Having helped to develop the Firman RF16 throughout 2016, Yorkshire’s Luke Williams reaped the benefits by the winning the first two rounds at Brands Hatch – he looked to be en route to winning the third before a collision forced him to retire. This handed victory to the Swift SC16 of Luke Cooper.
After that first meeting, there was something of a Celtic uprising in the shape of Neil MacLennan. The Cliff Dempsey Racing driver from the Scottish Highlands won the next 3 races in his Ray GR14. If it hadn’t been for an exclusion due to a yellow flag infringement, it would have been 4 out of 4.
The wins were then shared around as the competitiveness of the series increased. Ross Martin (Graham Brunton Racing Ray GR17), Jamie Thorburn (Cliff Dempsey Racing Ray GR15) and James Roe Jnr (Bernard Dolan Racing Van Diemen LA10) all visited the top step of the podium.
Another winner in 2017 was Jordan Dempsey. The Irishman joined the campaign at Kirkistown in June having concentrated on his education until that point in the year and took victory at Castle Combe before receiving Motorsport Ireland’s Young Racing Driver of the Year accolade this December.
Despite many visiting the top step of the podium, Williams was always a contender and, having scored 7 victories in 22 rounds, third place in the first race of the final Triple Header of the season at Anglesey sealed the title for him.
Williams also won the Triple Crown which took in the events at Brands Hatch, Donington Park and Silverstone while new for 2017 was the Tourist Trophy decided by races at circuits in each of the 4 Home Nations – Oulton Park (England), Knockhill (Scotland), Kirkistown (Northern Ireland) and Anglesey (Wales). MacLennan’s trio of early season victories coincided with the opening rounds of this mini-series and set him up to claim the silverware.
Another addition this year was the Clubman Class aimed at those who compete for fun rather than trying to build a career in the sport. This category was subdivided to cater for those driving Post89 and Pre90 cars.
John Ferguson dominated Post89 Class winning the National and Tourist Trophy titles. His Spectrum, which is prepared by Kevin Mills Racing, was definitely the car to be beat in this category however it was Vincent Jay in a Don Hardman prepared Ray went home with the Triple Crown.
It was a similar story in the Clubman Pre90s, Mark De Rozarieax added the Tourist Trophy to the National Championship but the Triple Crown went to David Cobbold. Both drove Souley Motorsport prepared Van Diemen RF88s.
The Avon Tyres Northern Post89 Formula Ford 1600 Championship went all the way to the wire with Josh Smith taking the honours having switched to the Oldfield Motorsport Van Diemen JL13 late in the season. The Pre90 Class was dominated by Jaap Blijleven (UCLAN Racing Reynard FF88).