2018 SEASON REVIEW: AVON TYRES NORTHERN FORMULA FORD CHAMPIONSHIP
This season Alaric “Pod” Gordon returned to the Avon Tyres Northern Formula Ford 1600 Championship for the first time since 2003 and, driving a Swift SC97, he regained the crown he previously won in 1999 and 2001 meaning he has taken the title in each of the last 3 decades.
The championship started very badly for him with much pre-season testing being lost due to a major leak and electrical problems. The latter arose from the battery shorting after being relocated from the cockpit to sidepod to accommodate Pod’s 6 feet 5 inches frame. Then in round 1 at Oulton Park a dropped valve holed a piston which put him out of the second encounter later that day.
After this nightmare start, in which Pod used up his 2 dropped scores, he had a 100% finishing record in the remaining 12 rounds of the season to clinch the Post89 title – reliability was the key to success as he only took one race win, this was at Anglesey in April, although his 1997 car was unbeaten in Class B for chassis built from 1990 until 1998.
Reflecting on his hat-trick clinching 2018 title success Pod mused, “In truth, I have to acknowledge that I am a long way from my pace and capabilities of 15 to 20 years ago and it was definitely a victory of consistency over absolute pace. The quick, young guns didn’t appear at all the rounds and some of the guys in the Pre90 classes deserve big respect for the pace they manage to squeeze out of their older machines but of course they’re not scoring against me, so alot of things fell in my favour.”
The Northern Championship started in quite spectacular style at Oulton Park in March with a high-speed collision between the Oldfield Motorsport Van Diemen JL13 of Josh Smith and Michael Eastwell’s Kevin Mills Racing Spectrum 011C just over the crest at Clay Hill. Smith was particularly fortunate to emerge unscathed as Eastwell’s car became airborne and landed on his head, removing the visor and rear aerodynamic appendage from his helmet. His “skid lid” ended up covered in tyre rubber.
Due to this accident, David McArthur (B-M Racing Van Diemen LA10) inherited the first win of the season but a gearbox problem later in the day sidelined him and handed round 2 to his team mate, Rory Smith (Medina JL18).
Smith and McArthur battled throughout the year for Class A (Post98) honours with the former coming out on top although Eastwell returned on occasion to take 4 race wins. Andrew Thomas took a win in his Mygale GV15K and Tom McArthur (Van Diemen LA10) netted a brace at Anglesey in August.
Like Gordon, Mario Sarchet’s dedication to the series saw him win the Pre90 and Class D (1984 to 1986 cars) sections of the Northern Championship in his 1986 Reynard. Jack Wolfenden finished second and claimed Class C (1987 to 1989 cars) despite only taking in the Champion of Oulton rounds in which he scored 6 wins out of 6 as his ’88 Reynard harried all bar the fastest Post89 cars.
Rory Smith also pipped David McArthur to the Post89 Champion of Oulton while David’s brother, Tom, re-appeared at the BRSCC’s Winter Meeting in November to secure the Post89 Star of Anglesey as Brian Young pipped Sarchet to the Pre90 title by a solitary point in his ’89 Reynard – fastest lap in the final round making all the difference.
Finally, a word for Scott Guthrie who took the Northern Class E Championship (Pre ’84 cars) in his Crossle 32F.