MURPHY LAYS DOWN THE LAW IN NORTHERN & SUPER CLASSIC FORMULA FORD OULTON OPENER


The Avon Tyres Northern and Super Classic Formula Ford 1600 Championship kicked off at Oulton Park on Saturday, 9th April. The Double Header saw some fantastic qualifying laps, and two intense races.

In qualifying, John Murphy put in a fantastic lap, seeing him take pole by 2.270 seconds in his Class A Van Diemen RF90. He was joined by Andrew Schofield at the front of the grid, with Schofield taking part in Class B with his Reynard FF89. Elsewhere, Alan Fincham was leading the Class C cars in ninth, with his Class rival, Paul Crosbie two places behind him, and finally, Michael Wales was leading in Class D with his Merlyn 20A, putting him twelfth overall.

Many people believed that Murphy would pull away with a comfortable win, after his dominant qualifying session, but it was closer than people expected. Murphy, Schofield, and BRSCC Chairman, Peter Daly were all in the battle for the lead…up until the safety car came out after Garath Buckingham came off into the gravel trap at Cascades. After the restart, it was a four-way battle, with Alaric Gordon joining the front runners. Murphy had to keep it tidy to ensure the victory, but the others were starting to gain time. Schofield was also finding it comfortable around the track until the safety car was deployed, which made the race a bit closer than he would have liked. However, the pack didn’t change, with Murphy getting the win after a tough race, with Schofield taking the Class B spoils. Peter Daly finished in third place, one and a half tenths behind Schofield, whilst also being just under four-tenths ahead of Alaric Gordon.

It looked like Fincham would take a promising P7, but with two laps to go, he had issues with the car, which forced him to return to the pits, which meant that Crosbie took the lead in Class C with a P8 finish. In the Class D cars, Roger Arnold completed the contest ahead of the rest, coming eleventh, but he had a close battle with Phil Nelson throughout the race, until the very last corner. Arnold’s Merlyn MK20 finished just under three tenths ahead of Nelson’s Hawke DL2B. It was certainly a race to remember for Nick Barnes, who started on the grid in P16, but with some fantastic late-breaking and daring overtakes, finished the race in P5, and put himself in a great position ahead of the next race.

After the close, tight racing, many anticipated another fantastic encounter later in the afternoon, which would showcase a lot of action, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Following his retirement from race one, Buckingham started the race from the back of the grid and had a tough job if he was going to fight his way up through the order. He started alongside Fincham after his troubles, but they seemed to have been fixed as the drivers made their way out of the Assembly Area.

Once again, Murphy had a great start alongside Schofield into the first corner as they led the field. Gordon was able to find a bit more traction coming down towards Cascades, and made his move stick on Daly to gain a position on the opening circuit. Fincham also made a move on lap 1 against Nelson through Lodge Corner, getting more grip on the exit, and pulled away from the Hawke DL2B. Similar to the last race, the top five began to establish a healthy advantage over the rest of the pack. While doing so, they also had intense battles with each other. Gordon looked to make moves into second, particularly on the inside of Old Hall but had to pull out a number of times due to the lack of grip he found on the track.

As the fight for the podium was happening upfront, so was the battle between the Class D cars, with Arnold leading the pack. Much of the action was taking place from Knickerbrook to Druids corner, but they just couldn’t find a way past Arnold in the opening laps. Daly and Barnes began to catch up to Gordon, and both got past him halfway through the race through Shell Oils, with Barnes trying to pressure Daly into a mistake, particularly through Britten’s and Hislops. As Daly pulled away, the fight for fourth was came to a head. Gordon got past Barnes at Old Hall and completed the move at Denton’s. However, coming onto the final lap, Barnes found extra grip out of Deer Leap and made an excellent move just before coming into Old Hall, and held onto fourth place, with Murphy, Schofield, and Daly taking the podium places.

Despite Gordon getting the fastest lap in race 1 with a 1:51:276, Murphy would have been delighted to add an extra point in race 2 with a 1:50:225.

Nelson eventually moved past Arnold to take the Class D lead. Roberts would also get past Arnold later in the race. Class C saw Fincham finish ninth overall, two places ahead of his only Class C rival, Crosbie. and It was great to see all seventeen cars finish the race.

After a tough first race which saw him retire, Buckingham was voted as the Avon Tyres Northern and Super Classic Formula Ford driver of the day after powering his way through the grid and earning himself an eighth-placed finish.

Daniel Moffat