FORMULA FORD DRIVERS READY TO LOCK HORNS IN OPENING NORTHERN ROUNDS AT OULTON PARK
The cream of Britain’s Formula Ford crop will do battle in the Avon Tyres BRSCC Northern Formula Ford 1600 Championship’s season opener at Oulton Park, with reigning BRSCC National champions Team Dolan fielding a quartet of cars and B-M Racing with five entries. There’s also more than another dozen names also on the grid, including some familiar faces.
In all, 22 drivers will be threading their way around the Oulton Park Island circuit this Saturday, half in the P class for post-1998 machinery and half in a trio of Super Classic categories. Amongst the more modern machinery, Team Dolan will face stiff competition from a trio of drivers who know this track like the back of their hand; David and Tom McArthur, along with their father Neil, for whom Oulton is their local circuit.
There’s a brand new car on the grid making its racing debut, with elder brother David entrusted with Medina Sport’s newest creation, the BH19. The opening round of the Northern championship served as a similar platform for the team last year, as mechanical engineering student Rory Smith secured a debut win for the Medina Sport JL18. It was Smith’s first FF1600 win in a year that he went on to become Champion of Oulton, making him an early favourite for this weekend’s meeting alongside the McArthur brothers, David and Tom.
But those four will have to contend with Team Dolan, who has brought four of their five National FF1600 championship drivers to compete in the Northern series. Reigning Scottish Formula Ford champion Ross Martin showed very strong pace when mixing it with the National drivers at Knockhill last year and, with Niall Murray’s championship-winning Van Diemen underneath him, is likely to challenge Smith and the McArthurs.
Another of Dolan’s new recruits, Jamie Sharp, has experience of this track from his Formula 4 campaigns over the past two years. He’s driving a slightly newer Van Diemen LA10, while Adam Quartermaine and Ginetta GT5 Challenge graduate Morgan Quinn complete Dolan’s line-up in RF99s.
Quinn’s jump from GTs to single seaters begins with his FF1600 debut this weekend but there’s a driver making an even bigger leap between disciplines, by swapping horse racing for motor racing. Nicole Woods will be jockeying for position at the wheel of a single seater for the first time but has experience in karts and on bikes and will be hoping to clear the typical hurdles a rookie driver faces for a strong first weekend.
Myerscough College and Jack Wolfenden are also back in the Northern fray with a Firman RFR17. Students studying FdSc and BSc Motorsport at Myerscough have been preparing themselves for future careers in motorsport for several years now in the Northern FF1600 championship, showing it’s as good a training ground for those working on the cars as those driving them as a means to climb the racing ladder.
Nigel Dolan is also back with his Van Diemen JL012K after a great 2018 season in which he scored four podiums on his way to fourth in the championship.
There’s a new format for 2019 for pre-1999 cars, with the Pre90 and Post89 split now broken down into further categories. Four Super Classic tiers – A, B, C and D – have all been created, with A slotting into the traditional Post89 group and the rest falling into the Pre90 class.
That means that Chester-based racer Seamus Wild’s entry aboard his Swift SC93F is eligible for SCA honours, with his car being built between 1990 and 1998.
Super Classic B, for cars built between 1982 and 1989, is packed to the rafters and potentially with a very different title fight emerging compared to last year. With Jack Wolfenden racing in the class for modern machinery, rather than in a Reynard 88FF as he had in 2018, and with reigning champion Mario Sarchet not entered, Juiceie Bruceie is an early favourite for success in his Reynard 84FF.
Watch out though for some drivers in different machinery than their past ventures in the Northern championship, though. Nick Barnes was a race winner in the Northern FF1600 championship’s Post89 back in 2017 but is now in the SCB category with a Swift FB89. South African driver Ian Schofield is known in his homeland for driving a Mygale but this weekend he’s trying something different, racing a Reynard 89FF in his first event on British shores since the 2017 FFord Festival.
Stuart Jones (Reynard 84FF), Steve Nixon (Van Diemen RF86), Trevor Morgan (Reynard 88FF), Richard Ketterman (Reynard 86FF) and Patrick Humphreys (Van Diemen RF86) are all back to challenge Bruceie, Barnes and Schofield for SCB spoils. There’s also a newcomer to the championship hoping to make a splash, with Simon Fraser piloting a Van Diemen RF85.
Super Classic D, a new category for cars built before 1972, will feature a Hawke LD2B driven by Phil Nelson. Nelson has often mixed it with the newer Pre90 machines in past meetings despite his older car, so expect to see his Hawke fighting tooth and nail with some of the Reynards and Van Diemens.
This Saturday’s Avon Tyres BRSCC Northern Formula Ford 1600 meeting at Oulton Park begins with Qualifying at 8:55am, with Race 1 starting at 11:10am and Race 2 at 12:30pm.