Zandvoort is confirmed as one of the Formula Ford EuroCup circuits. Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Formula Ford is set to enter a new era in 2011 with the launch of a series of blue riband EuroCup events at top European circuits, aimed at drawing the best young single-seater talent from the British, Benelux and Scandinavian Formula Ford championships and introducing the formula to other drivers from around Europe.

The four-meeting EuroCup calendar will dovetail with that of the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain to enable UK teams to contest both series. Next summer’s Zandvoort F3 Masters meeting is one the confirmed EuroCup events; Formula Ford promoter RacingLine is seeking races at circuits such as Spa-Francorchamps, Brands Hatch GP and Zolder in Belgium to accompany the Dutch event.

“We are delighted to be able to give Formula Ford a European showcase in which to display its many talents,” said Gerard Quinn, Ford of Europe’s Motorsport chief. “In addition to providing the usual Formula Ford guarantee of spectator satisfaction, the four EuroCup events will provide valuable circuit experience for the youngsters taking part and build a platform to introduce FF back into other countries.”

The 2011 Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain will meanwhile be contested over 24 races, with plans for eight ‘triple-header’ meetings, including the Zandvoort F3 Masters event as well as seven UK meetings, most supporting British F3. A comprehensive TV schedule including Channel 4 coverage, as well as Motors TV, is part of the package.

Sam Roach of RacingLine says teams and drivers have welcomed the addition of the EuroCup to Formula Ford’s programme of events: “Our races at the Zandvoort F3 Masters event were a highlight of the 2010 season for all concerned. We visited Spa in 2008 and the teams have been keen to return ever since. With Formula Ford growing in strength year on year, the time is right to join together with the Dutch and Belgian teams, and also those from Scandinavia, to present a unified Formula Ford force.

“The plan is to hold four EuroCup events in 2011; Zandvoort is confirmed and we are hopeful of securing slots at Spa-Francorchamps, Brands Hatch GP and Zolder. All the meetings will feature three Formula Ford races, and there will be an overall EuroCup winner declared at each event.

“The three Zandvoort and three Brands Hatch races will count also towards the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain,” adds Roach, “and the plan is for a further six UK meetings, following the British F3 dates and circuits, to give us a British championship of 24 races.”

The introduction of the EuroCup has been welcomed by Formula Ford teams both in Britain and the Netherlands. Jamun Racing’s Tony Mundy said: “Young drivers with an eye on their future careers are keen to gain experience of the international circuits on which they will race in Formula 3 and beyond. I am pleased that Formula Ford is meeting that need.”

Gert Valkenburg, of Dutch team Geva Racing, added: “A EuroCup can only strengthen Formula Ford, and will give drivers in the various European championships another target.”

Formula Ford’s European move is another boost for drivers seeking to follow in the wheeltracks of such as Jenson Button, Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher, all of whom used their careers in Formula Ford as a launch pad for success in F3 and on to Formula 1 World Championship titles.

Britain’s last three Formula Ford Champions – Callum MacLeod, Wayne Boyd and James Cole – all progressed to Formula 3 drives.

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