DOUBLE HELPING OF PYE AT COMBE
Scott Pye enjoyed a near-perfect weekend at Castle Combe, Jamun Racing's Australian title hopeful leading from pole to chequered flag in both of the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain races to record his fifth and six wins of the season.
Pye bounces back into championship second as a result of his latest victories, with championship leader Scott Malvern maintaining his 43-point advantage thanks to a brace of podium finishes. In the Scholarship class there were twin wins for Raysport driver Tristan Mingay, with Luke Williams losing and then regaining the class points lead. .
Pye's fifth win of the season looked in a certain amount of doubt as the lights flashed to start round nine, for the pole-sitter lit up his Mygale's rear wheels just a little too enthusiastically, provoking massive wheelspin. Fortunately for Scott, those around him – his team-mates Josh Hill and Emil Bernstorff, plus Daniel Cammish in the JTR Mygale – failed to profit from his error, with Hill and Cammish slotting in behind the Australian on the run through Folly and up Avon Rise. Danish driver Bernstorff suffered a very poor start, dropping back to 10th on the opening lap.
Right in Cammish's wheeltracks for fourth was championship leader Scott Malvern, whose opening lap more than compensated for fuel pick-up problems in qualifying which left the Cliff Dempsey Racing Ray pilot seventh on the grid.
Pye quickly put his startline drama behind him to ease into a half-second lead over Hill, and then on the third lap Josh got it all wrong at Quarry Corner, made slippery by dropped oil from Mark Harper's retiring Mygale, and fell back to fourth behind Cammish and Malvern. Malvern seized his opportunity to secure second, again at Quarry, on lap four: "Both Cammish and Hill made the same mistake," said Scott. "There was oil down at Quarry and they went in too quick and locked up. I hung back and drove past."
By this stage the other Scott was 1.4s up the road, and there was little Malvern could do to rein in Pye. "I'm not sure if we had a problem or whether it's simply that the Ray doesn't suit Castle Combe," said the English Scott. "But second from seventh on the grid is a pretty good result after the problems we had in qualifying."
Pye eased out his advantage to nearly four seconds by the chequered flag, and was more than pleased with win number five and a return to the podium's top step after a disappointing time earlier in the month. "Zandvoort was a bit of a disaster for us, so it's great to get back on top," said Pye. "It was pretty much the perfect race and the car was awesome, so all credit to the team."
After his early-race mishap, Hill recovered quickly to displace Cammish from third and then hung on to the final podium slot despite race-long pressure from Enigma Mygale pilot Antti Buri. Cammish's race deteriorated quickly as he struggled with a brake pedal problem, and then he missed a gear going through the Bobbies chicane which led to the hotly pursuing Bernstorff hitting the back of his car; both retired with suspension damage.
Buri and JTR driver Tio Ellinas were the quickest men on the track in the late stages of the race as they battled over fourth. Indeed Cypriot Ellinas not only broke the four-year-old circuit lap record with his 1m 06.418s lap, but also recorded the first-ever 100mph Formula Ford racing lap of Castle Combe. Buri held on to fourth, a tenth of a second ahead of his pursuer at the line.
Zandvoort victor Dennis Lind started 12th in his Fluid-prepared Van Diemen after a coming together with another car; the Dane did well to fight through from there to sixth at the flag, ahead of Dan de Zille's Minister Mygale, which he passed on the fourth lap. De Zille was seventh ahead of young Brits Jake Cook and James Tucker, with returnee Chrissy Palmer claiming 10th in the Guest-class Juno.
Raysport's Tristan Mingay led the Scholarship class from start to finish and was a good half-minute ahead of the only other class finisher, Mexico's Dani Domit. With Luke Williams' Juno pulling off and out with an alternator problem after just three laps, Domit's score promoted him to the class points lead.
More of the same was what Pye was hoping to deliver in the second race of the day and, although the route to victory number six was interrupted by red flags and a lengthy race stoppage, that is largely what Scott managed to achieve.
Both pole man Pye and Hill, who started alongside, made excellent getaways to establish a Jamun Mygale 1-2, while their team-mate Bernstorff again made a disappointing getaway and slipped to seventh, with Cammish, Ellinas, Malvern and Slaghekke in between.
Pye and Hill quickly distanced themselves from the pack, with Scott unable to shake the World Champion's son from his tail. Behind them a three-car battle raged for third between Cammish, Ellinas and Malvern, with Bernstorff passing Slaghekke for sixth and posting fastest lap as he recovered from his tardy getaway.
Alas the battles up and down the field were brought to a premature halt after only seven laps when Chrissy Palmer's Guest-class Juno buried itself in a tyre wall at Tower Corner. He was bruised but otherwise unhurt; recovering his car proved a major undertaking, however.
The race was restarted for a five-lap dash for the flag, with the surviving cars lining up on a fresh grid in the order they held at the time of the crash. Pye and Hill showed no nerves at the lights and blasted back into command of the race, with wily Malvern making a great getaway behind them to overhaul both Ellinas and Cammish for third.
Malvern had a look at passing Hill but decided a podium in the bag was a better bet, and Pye, Hill and Malvern crossed the line in that order separated by 1.2s, with Cammish holding off team-mate Ellinas to secure fourth.
"It's been the perfect weekend for me," said Pye. "Two poles yesterday and two race wins today, it's great. As for the championship, we'll look at that towards the end of the season. What we are going to do for now is just to keep on winning races." His team-mate Hill added: "I was able to cope a lot better with the track conditions in that race, so I'm happy."
Fluid driver Dennis Lind started 'part one' from 10th, and then started ninth on the grid for the final section. He profited from Bernstorff's slow start and then got past both Antti Buri and Jeroen Slaghekke to secure a hard-won sixth at the line.
Slaghekke, Bernstorff and Buri completed the top nine, with Jersey driver Dan de Zille 10th for the Minister International team.
Tristan Mingay led the Scholarship class throughout both sections of the race, with Luke Williams right behind him in his Juno. Dani Domit's tenure of the Scholarship class points lead lasted only until the opening lap of the restarted race, when the Mexican's JTR Mygale tangled with James Tucker's Van Diemen and both men retired.
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