Josh Fielding was one of many karters to sample a Formula Ford at Rockingham. Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Formula Ford stars of future seasons joined the top drivers from this year’s Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain on track last Thursday to underline the continuing success of the world’s longest running and most successful race series for novices.

Rockingham was the venue for the annual Formula Ford Sampler Day, an opportunity for teams old and new to meet and test some of the young hopefuls looking to give their single-seater careers the best possible start. The day provided an opportunity also for the front-runners from 2010 to claim a valuable prize – a test with a leading Formula 3 team.

Among the 20 or so drivers who took to the circuit were some successful karters looking to make the step into Formula Ford. Jordan Chamberlain, the 18-year-old British Kart Grand Prix winner, sampled several different chassis. “It’s been a great opportunity,” said Jordan, “and I want to thank everyone who made it possible for me. Formula Ford is very much an option for me for 2011.” Jordan’s test was a prize for victory in the Trent Valley Kart Club’s summer Kartmasters event.

Twenty-year-old Josh Fielding, British KF2 kart champ in 2009, is another looking to make it on to the Formula Ford grid after sampling single-seaters for the first time this season in USF2000. He was joined on track by Senior Max karter Ben Lancaster and 16-year-old junior kart star Chris McCarthy.

Laura Koivuluoma, this year’s runner-up in the Finnish KF1 kart series, tested with Linton Stuteley’s Enigma Motorsport team under the watchful eye of seasoned British championship contender, and Finnish Formula Ford Champion, Antti Buri.

Sean Walkinshaw, the 17-year-old son of Scottish motor sport legend Tom, enjoyed his maiden single-seater laps at the wheel of Century Motorsport’s Juno chassis. “I have done some karting before,” said Sean, “but this is my first time in a Formula Ford, and I’m loving it.” Sean’s father started his track career in Formula Ford, winning the Scottish title in 1969 before moving on to racing touring cars and sports cars, and to F1 team management.

Among the other teams in action were multiple championship-winning squad Jamun, Nick Tandy’s JTR, DW Racing and Fluid.

A team new to the championship, Advent Motorsport, was also at Rockingham to publicise its planned involvement in 2011. Team boss Andrew Crighton hopes to run two Fluid-built Van Diemens in the series. “Formula Ford is where I started, and I love it,” he said. “I have wanted to contest the championship for many years and I’m delighted that this opportunity has now presented itself.” Advent has enjoyed a 10-year run of success in saloon championships such as T-Cars, the Mini Challenge, SEAT Cupra Challenge and Abarth Trofeo.

Among the drivers with the biggest grins were 2010 championship runner-up Scott Malvern and third-place finisher Daniel Cammish, who were given their maiden laps in Formula 3 cars run by Motul Team West-Tec, a National class-winning team from British F3 as well as a title-winning squad in the European F3 Open Championship.

Malvern drove a Mugen Honda-engined Dallara chassis to UK specification, while Cammish sampled the team’s Euro-spec car. “It was my first time in a Formula 3 car,” said Malvern, “and it was interesting to compare it with the F2 car I tested recently – they are very different machines. There was a lot to take in, and it was great experience.” Malvern’s career plans are progressing while he awaits the outcome of the judges’ deliberations in the £100,000 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, in which he was one of the six finalists.

Cammish was delighted also: “Formula 3 is where I hope to be next year,” said the Yorkshireman, “so this test was a great opportunity for me. The F3 car is so different in terms of downforce, braking and grip, that it takes some getting used to. Every bit of experience is vital.”

Motul Team West-Tec’s John Miller was impressed by both men: “We have approached this as a serious day of testing, with data logging and debriefing, and the drivers have been professional in their approach also. It’s been a valuable day for them and they are both clearly very talented and have great futures.”

Young drivers attending the sampler day not only had the chance to try the cars but also to take advantage of seminars aimed at helping them with their careers, including sponsorship and presentation, as well as technical advice from Dunlop.

Sam Roach, of championship promoter RacingLine, summed up the successful Rockingham sampler day: “It’s been a valuable day for all concerned – for the teams looking for talent for the coming season, for Scott and Daniel, who have gained useful, career-enhancing experience, and most of all for the young drivers looking to make a good, solid start to their racing careers. We are very pleased with how things have gone.”

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