MITCHELL HOPING FOR KNOCKHILL ADVANTAGE
Mitchell has the opportunity to prove himself on home soil – Photo: jakobebrey.com
Fifteen-year-old Sandy Mitchell will fulfil an ambition next weekend (22/23 Aug) when he races at Knockhill, the track where he was inspired to pursue a career in motor sport. Forfar-based Sandy was just three when he watched his dad, Steve, race a Mini at Scotland’s national motorsport centre. Now their roles are reversed and Steve will be watching Sandy line up on the grid for the MSA Formula races at the wheel of his Ford EcoBoost-powered and TRS Arden-prepared single-seater.
Sandy arrives at Knockhill with two race victories under his belt and a solid top-seven position in the overall championship and though the Fife circuit’s nature could not contrast more with that of Thruxton, where Mitchell took his two wins, he’s hopeful of a good result: “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a very challenging circuit because of all the undulations, and it’s quite narrow, so it will difficult to overtake. We’ve had only one test day there, so I’ve not much experience, but I’ve been going to Knockhill from a young age to watch.
“It was quite special for me in the pre-season test to get out on the track and to drive it for the first time. My dad did a bit of club racing in Minis and I went along to watch him race, and I have been a spectator at the BTCC meetings quite a few times. It feels good to be going back to compete at one.
“Obviously it would be nice to get on the podium but mostly I’ll be trying to score some consistent points over the weekend – that’s the main thing. I have had so many ups and downs this year and weekends where I haven’t scored points, so I just need to try to score as many as I can.”
Mitchell is one of the youngest on the MSA Formula grid, the only single-seater series in Britain in which 15-year-olds are allowed to compete. He is no stranger to competition, however, having taken his first championship title, the North Scotland Kart Club cadet championship, aged nine. He went on to win the British Open Cadet Championship in 2012 and, last year, the British Super 1 Rotax kart title. Sandy is backed by a host of forward-looking Scottish and UK companies including Close Brothers Asset Management, Thorntons Law, Stirfresh, Tunnock’s, HBB GeoSales, Smartcomm and The Stag.
It is Mitchell’s TRS Arden team-mate Ricky Collard who leads the championship to Knockhill. Nineteen-year-old Ricky, son of touring car favourite Rob, has three race wins to his credit but saw his points advantage over Carlin challenger Lando Norris cut to just 10 last weekend at Snetterton. That was largely down to a technical problem in qualifying which saw Ricky start the feature race from the back of the grid; he battled through to ninth but lost points to Norris, who placed second, and to Fortec’s Dan Ticktum, who finished right behind Norris to re-establish himself as championship third-place man.
MSA Formula welcomed a new race winner at Snetterton in the shape of Colton Herta, 15-year-old son of IndyCar race winner Bryan, who claimed victory for Carlin in both the reverse-grid race and the feature race after showing dominance throughout pre-event testing and qualifying. Herta is the eighth different winner of this super-competitive season, joining Norris, Collard, Ticktum, Mitchell, Sennan Fielding (JHR Developments), Matheus Leist (Double R) and Josh Smith (Fortec); all will be seeking a return to the top step of the podium next weekend.
The Knockhill action begins with two timed official test sessions next Friday (21 Aug), followed on Saturday by qualifying and the first of the weekend’s three races. Sunday afternoon’s finale will be screened live on ITV4.