The second visit to Mallory Park in three weeks for the Avon Tyres Northern & Super Classic Formula Ford Championship in 2021 was just as exciting and intense as the first, producing two different race winners outright and giving the points tables a little bit of a shake up heading to the traditional North Western-based rounds in the next few weeks.

Top of qualifying on Saturday morning was the sole P Class car of Nigel Dolan, although while he took pole position it was only by a tenth of a second from Formula Ford legend Rick Morris. He proved that regardless of the age of the car, any Formula Ford chassis can be competitive in the right hands by putting his Royale RP29 on the front row, ahead of a pair of Van Diemens with James Tucker in his 1992 chassis while Stuart Kestenbaum was 4th fastest driving a 1979 vintage. A brace of Swifts came next with Paul Mason and Chris Hodgen at the wheel, followed by Leanne McShane’s Van Diemen RF88, Neil Hunt’s Mondiale, Nick Barnes’ Swift and while “Juiceie Bruceie” managed 10th fastest in the session, his car stopped on the way to the grid exiting Gerrards, forcing him to miss Race 1 and the start to be delayed.

When racing did get underway, it was Kestenbaum that shot straight into the lead as he threaded his way between the front row pair of a slow starting Dolan and then Morris to head the field into Gerrards for the first time. Kestenbaum held the lead on the opening lap from Morris, Hodgen, Dolan and James Tucker, and remained in front on completion of the next tour, but then the race was neutralised as problems for both Edwin Hannah and Chris Hodgen forced them to both retire separately, which in turn produced an appearance from the Jaguar XF Sportbrake Safety Car to bunch up the pack.

Once both Hannah and Hodgen’s cars were clear, racing resumed with Kestenbaum maintaining the lead once again, while behind a spin for Paul Tucker’s Swift left him grass tracking at Gerrards as he rejoined. Out in front, Kestenbaum’s advantage only lasted another two complete laps before Dolan’s Van Diemen swept round the outside at Gerrards into the lead, quickly followed by James Tucker into 2nd place and then Morris into P3. Dolan quickly began to pull away while Tucker came under threat from Morris, and it wasn’t long before Rick found a way through and started to lead the efforts to catch Dolan with Tucker and Paul Mason following suit. Morris broke away to leave the rest to scrap amongst themselves, but even his supreme abilities behind the wheel of a classic chassis weren’t quite enough to stop Dolan. The P Class Van Diemen took the overall win in 2nd place overall as well as Super Classic C winner, but behind them came an almight scrap for not just 3rd but also the Super Classic A honours. After some frantic position shuffling and wheel-to-wheel battles, it was Paul Mason that came out on top ahead of classmates McDonald and James Tucker, with Nick Barnes completing the top six as well as taking the Super Classic B class. Kestenbaum eventually battled on to pick up 7th place from McShane and Hunt and Alan Finchum completed the top 10.

Between races, rain showers saturated the circuit but when it subsided and thanks to the high winds that remained, it had substantially dried by the time the second race rolled around. The track was still a little greasy and damp in places, but nothing as treacherous as some of the conditions other championships had to experience earlier in the day. Morris nailed the start to Race 2 to lead the pack into Gerrards with Dolan and McDonald behind him, while further back a collision between McShane and Kestenbaum put both cars spinning onto the wet grass. Both rejoined but were relegated to the tail of the field, with Kestenbaum not able to complete the opening lap and out of the race. Alan Finchum was also another first lap casualty as he was out with a mechanical issue.

McDonald quickly set about making designs on the lead and swiftly moved past Morris with James Tucker following him past in quick succession, who then managed to reel in McDonald and put him under pressure as the pair began to run in tandem. A slide out wide at Gerrards gave Tucker a chance to peek up the inside at the Esses to no avail but when they came back around to start another lap, it was Tucker in front as the positions had swapped around. Tucker wasted no time in creating a gap to 2nd place while behind Morris was involved in a great scrap with Hodgen over the final podium spot in 3rd, which the younger Swift chassis eventually took. For a brief period, the race settled down with positions remaining static, but then Tucker’s advantage was wiped out after he made a mistake, losing him several seconds but also the lead of the race as McDonald drove through on Lap 12 with a gap of over 5 seconds over the Swift.

Tucker pressed hard in an effort to recover and managed to claw back three seconds in the last two laps, but it wasn’t enough to deny McDonald from clinching the win with the margin of victory just 2.8 seconds at the flag. Behind them, Hodgen had driven well to take 3rd overall and ensure that Super Classic A cars locked out the top three places, ahead of top Super Classic B car Leanne McShane, Rick Morris who was a comfortable Super Classic C winner once more and then Neil Hunt in 6th ahead of Dolan, who again picked up maximum points for P Class. Paul Tucker, Mason and Hannah completed the top 10, while Ian Fernihough managed to finish both races trouble-free to pick up a pair of Super Classic D wins aboard his Titan Mk6.

The championship now heads to one of its traditional regional venues and a real driver’s favourite – Oulton Park’s International circuit on June 19th. We’re expecting many regulars and familiar faces to be joining us alongside our top names fighting for their respective class titles, so it should be another superb day of Formula Ford racing in the North West!

Scott Woodwiss


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