FORMULA FORD STARS OUT IN FORCE
Formula Ford stars from last season and those hoping to follow in their wheeltracks in 2010 came together on Wednesday at Rockingham for the Ford-backed championship's annual 'sampler day'.
It was an opportunity for the teams to meet drivers planning on joining the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain for the coming season, and for the young stars of tomorrow to try for size the many different chassis on offer.
Rockingham was the venue also for the 2009 Champion, James Cole, and his runner-up, Josef Newgarden, to claim their prize drives – test sessions in a National Class British Formula 3 car fielded by top team T-Sport.
The day was a superb advertisement for Formula Ford, says Sam Roach, of championship promoter RacingLine. "We were very encouraged by the calibre of the drivers attending, and the teams made some useful contacts. The prospects for the coming season are looking very bright."
Among the young hopefuls trying a Formula Ford machine for the first time was 16-year-old Sarah Moore, who made history this year with her outright title victory in the Ginetta Junior Championship. She and her younger brother David sampled the DW Racing UK team's Ray chassis. "It's been a great experience," said Sarah, "because the car is totally different to those I am used to driving."
Another recently crowned champion racer, David Ellesley, was in action also, trying the Mygale chassis of the JTR and Enigma teams and also Harkesport and Myerscough College Van Diemens. The 23-year-old, who won the Competition Car Insurance Ford Fiesta ST Championship in 2009, is seriously considering a Formula Ford career. "To jump straight from a saloon into a Formula Ford was a real culture shock, but an immensely satisfying one," he said. "Combined with the damp track it was a steep learning curve. Formula Ford would be a great opportunity for me and I am working hard to put a deal together for 2010."
Luke Williams – an occasional competitor in 2009 – was at Rockingham with the ex-Chrissy Palmer Juno chassis he has bought in preparation for a full-season campaign next year. A new works Juno was being given its first outing, National FF1600 title-winner Scott Malvern at the wheel, while MSA 'Kartmasters' British Grand Prix podium finisher Max Goff drove one of the race-winning works Van Diemens prepared by Fluid Motorsport.
Cole and Newgarden enjoyed their time at the wheel of T-Sport's Honda-powered Dallara F3 chassis, and team boss Russell Eacott was delighted by the youngsters' performances: "They both showed a lot of maturity and level-headedness. They are both clearly very talented drivers, as you would expect coming out of Formula Ford."
Cole had had prior experience of F3 power, but for American Newgarden it was a leap into the unknown: "It's all completely different and new to me," said Josef, "but all good! I thoroughly enjoyed the test." Both Cole and Newgarden are looking to follow the example of 2008 Formula Ford Champion Wayne Boyd and graduate to British F3 in the coming season.
The day was a big draw for junior karters also, with cadets from the Trent Valley Kart Club attending to get a feel for Formula Ford and long-circuit racing. They were given track rides by Formula Ford racewinner Chrissy Palmer and allowed a look behind the scenes in race control.