Written by David “Fasttoes” Williams – The Avon Tyres Northern & Super Classic Formula Ford 1600 Championship enjoyed its third meeting of the season at Oulton Park on 19th June and it proved to be a perfect day for Jack Wolfenden.

The Firman RFR17 driver took pole, 2 wins and 2 fastest laps both overall and in Class P. His dominant performance began in the morning’s qualifying session when he was 1.4 secs faster than the second car on the timesheets which was the Class B Van Diemen RF89 of Neil Patten and had a 2.4 secs advantage over the next Class P entrant which was the Van Diemen JL012K of Nigel Dolan in third.

At the end of the opening lap of race 1, Wolfenden was 1.4 secs ahead of Patten – the same as the margin that separated them in qualifying and went on to win by 14 secs. The gap between Patten and Dolan in third was much closer than the one between first and second at the finish – Dolan couldn’t quite get on terms with the Class B car but had a few seconds advantage over the Ray GR07 of Kieran Attwood who was also in Class P.

These past few seasons Attwood has been a regular Formula Ford 1600 competitor at Castle Combe but this was the first time he has raced at Oulton Park. He loved the track, describing it as “Mega”, and praised the BRSCC North Western Centre’s organisation of the day.

He qualified fifth, just 3 tenths behind the Class A Van Diemen RF90 of John Murphy, a car which he had only raced once since 2012. The latter encountered some traffic during the session but was reasonably happy with fourth.

Attwood gained a place when the red lights went out having made a great start while Murphy felt his was poor meaning had to chase after Attwood. He got close a few times but his adversary was driving really well so there was no opportunity to make a pass.

For much of the race, Peter Daly ran sixth in his Class B Van Diemen RF88 but the new brake pads he had fitted very quickly glazed especially at the front and so Peter retired to the pits to enable him to start race 2 at the back and “get my money’s worth of overtaking” he quipped!

Therefore, the next car to take the flag was Paul Mason who was the runner-up to Murphy in Class A with his Swift SC94 although he couldn’t match the pace of the category leader and had to focus on defending sixth from Nick Barnes’ Class B Swift FB89.

Barnes had qualified ninth just behind fellow Class B man Mario Sarchet in his Reynard FF86. Sarchet was making a come back having only raced once in the past 3 years. A fuel issue meant he was unable to do much running in Friday’s test day so he was surprised to qualify as well as he did.

A good start by Barnes allowed him to pull almost alongside Sarchet but a missed gearchange thwarted his bid to get ahead. He managed to complete a pass a few laps later and then closed in on Mason. Despite being much faster (Mason later discovered he had a brake problem) Barnes couldn’t find a way by. He even tried a daredevil move around the outside at Island!

Ian Wood was the only entrant in Class C but on the green flag lap he had an electrical issue on his Merlyn Mk24. The problem could have been fixed in time for him to join the contest from the pit-lane but the necessary tools were locked in his van and his father had the keys! …but at least he successfully finished next time the field came under Starter’s Order.

Jason Cheetham could have done the double in Class D but in the opener he pulled his Merlyn Mk18 into the pits just as the chequered flag came out handing a surprise category win to Phil Nelson (Hawke DL2).

It was the same Top Three overall at the end of the second encounter. Patten finished slightly closer to Wolfenden while Dolan eased off towards the end when he realised he had no chance of improving his position. His reduced pace gave Attwood hopes of making a late race pass. The latter made a big impression at Oulton Park and was voted the Formula Ford Driver of the Day.

With his brake problems now greatly improved, Mason was able to get much closer to John Murphy and even made a couple of attempts to pass. Barnes then out-braked Mason at Lodge but Murphy resolutely defended his position from him also. Exiting the final corner, Barnes made a big effort to out-drag Murphy to the line but failed by a couple of tenths. Mason had an even better run out of Lodge than the pair of them but couldn’t find a way through.

Daly got his wish to add to the “cars overtaken” tally on his racing CV as he battled up from seventeenth on the grid to finish eighth.

With Wolfenden 44 points behind Dolan in Class P having missed 2 of the 4 rounds staged at Mallory Park earlier in the year, battle will recommence at Anglesey on the weekend of 10th/11th July.

Dave Williams


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