FORMULA FORD ON TRACK FOR A SOLID START
The fastest junior single-seater race series in the UK will burst into life on live TV this Easter weekend (30/31 March) at Brands Hatch as Formula Ford begins a new and exciting era, nearly 46 years since the Kent circuit was inscribed in the history books as the birthplace of Formula Ford.
Inspired partly by the success of Formula Ford 2000 in the 1980s, the technical revisions to the new Formula Ford engine and chassis incorporate feedback from drivers, teams and manufacturers. The 1.6-litre turbocharged EcoBoost power unit has been tuned to develop in excess of 200PS and is mated to a Formula 3 specification six-speed sequential gearbox, with front and rear aerodynamic wings added to the chassis to provide young drivers with the most technically advanced junior single-seater racing car in the world, and an unrivalled learning experience.
Not only that, but the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain is returning to Britain’s premier motorsport package to race alongside the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. The three-year deal sees Formula Ford EcoBoost 200 become the sole regular single-seater support championship for the BTCC, with three races at each of the 10 TOCA-organised events.
The attractions of the new Formula Ford have drawn a quality entry and, with a week to go before the opening rounds, further drivers are waiting in the wings to join.
Several well-known names are returning to Formula Ford for its rebirth, not least the 2011 champion, Barkingside-based Scott Malvern, who rejoins the Jamun Racing team for another crack at the title, as does 2012 race winner Luke Williams (Thirsk).
The championship-winning team of 2012, JTR, has also secured a top name from seasons past to lead its squad: Dan Cammish (Leeds), the 2009 Scholarship Champion and 2010 third-place championship finisher. Cammish says he is well prepared for the coming season but unsure how quick anyone will be: “Until we get to Brands Hatch I’ve no idea at all where I will be in relation to the rest. I’ve had four good days of testing and I’ve really enjoyed the new car, which is really quick. I think we’re in good shape, but you can never be sure. I see Scott Malvern as my main rival because we both have experience and have gone well in the past, but I am sure there are others on the grid who will be quick also. It’s certainly going to be interesting, and I think it will be a good year also.”
Like F1 and F3, Formula Ford is an open-chassis formula, and two manufacturers are represented at the start of this season, with two more preparing to join the party. French builder Mygale is the established player, its chassis having first appeared in 2012, while the Norfolk-built Sinter will make its competition debut next weekend at Brands Hatch.
Jamun, the Rochester-based multiple championship-winning team, is set to run four Mygales this season, with Malvern and Williams joined on the squad by young Argentinian hot-shots Juan Rosso and Nico Maranzana. JTR will field three of the French machines, with Cammish joined by American rookie Camren Kaminsky and another driver who is due to be announced in the coming days.
Two of the new Sinters are due in action at Brands Hatch, one in the hands of experienced club sports car racer James Abbott (Thurlby), who will make his Formula Ford debut with the Radical Motorsport team, and another to be driven by former kart star Fred Martin-Dye (Shamley Green), the Sinter works driver competing with SWB Motorsport.
Falcon Motorsport is another fresh name on the entry list. Nick Streatfield’s squad last ran in Formula Ford in 1993 and subsequently went on to race in British F3, UK Formula Renault and Intersteps. Highly rated karting star Harrison Scott (Althorne) will race one of Falcon’s Mygales.
Formula Ford club championship winner Neil Winn (North Ferriby) is among the latest to commit to the championship. The 20-year-old will announce his team and chassis plans in the coming days. “I’m passionate about this opportunity and, since testing the new Formula Ford in December, I am committed to having a good go at it this season,” he said. Neil was a class victor in his first season in the BRSCC' Avon Tyres Formula Ford 1600 Northern Championship in 2011. Last year he claimed multiple outright race victories on the way to the Class A Northern and Champion of Oulton titles; he went on to claim a place in the final of the Walter Hayes Trophy.
George Blundell secured his Formula Ford seat this week. The 20-year-old from Grays, Essex, who raced to third overall in last year’s Duratec class, will campaign an Enigma Motorsport-prepared Mygale. “It’s going to be a steep learning curve,” said George, “because I’ve had very little testing and there’s a lot of work to do to get the car ready. My experience of the EcoBoost 200 is limited but I’ve really enjoyed driving the new car and I’m looking forward to learning about getting the best from it.”
Also due to race a Formula Ford in the near future is reigning Formula Ford Duratec class champion Matt Rao. The Oxford Brookes University student will, however, miss the opening rounds.
The first opportunity for the field to compare their relative states of readiness comes on Good Friday, with two official test schedules at Brands Hatch ahead of Saturday’s qualifying and first race. Two further races follow on Easter Sunday.