NATIONAL FORMULA FORD BEGINS AT SNETTERTON SCORCHER


Alex Birley gives us a comprehensive round up of the opening three races of the 2019 Avon Tyres National Formula Ford Championship from Snetterton on April 20/21 2019.

RACE 1
In scorching conditions, Rory Smith, B-M Racing, made the best possible start to the season with a victory in race one at the Norfolk circuit.

However, the youngster didn’t have it all his own way. Starting down in seventh, having lost some lap times for exceeding track limits, Smith knew he faced a challenging afternoon.

First pole position honours went to Ross Martin from Team Dolan. Lining up behind him were the American racer, ‘Spike’ Kohlbecker; James Clarke; Neil MacLennan and the rookie Brendon Leigh starting in an impressive fifth place.

Martin made a good start and defended into the corner. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well for Henry Chart whose Van Diemen MS13 didn’t get off the line due to transmission failure.

Neil MacLennan looked racy on the opening lap but ran wide, which dropped him back down the field. However, fastest lap for the Kevin Mills driver shows there is pace in the car, and he could be one to watch in Sunday’s races.

There was plenty of close racing, as we know to expect from the Formula Fords. By the end of lap two Smith had moved from seventh to fourth and a few corners later he passed the Cliff Dempsey Racing pair Kohlbecker and James Clarke.

Martin tried to defend his lead, but Smith slipped passed into turn one. Kohlbecker saw his opportunity and also passed Martin to take second.

For the rest of the race the American was all over the back of Smith and there were a number of times it looked as if he would find a way by. However, Rory Smith held on to take the chequered flag, the final gap back to Kohlbecker just 0.2s.

Behind them, Martin held on for third place followed home, on the track, by Brendon Leigh, Jamie Sharp, Neil McLennan, Michael MacPherson and Max Marzorati who won the Clubman’s class.

Unfortunately for the double Esport Formula 1 champion, Leigh, the stewards judged that his move on Browne contravened general safety regs and awarded a 15.5s to ensure he was classified behind Browne.

Samuel Street was delighted to make it to the end, finishing 18th after electrical issues in qualifying meant that it didn’t look as if he would make the start. Assistance from the B-M Racing team ensured the problem was fixed and demonstrates the nature of this single seater series.

Scott Huntley, who has made the move from karts to Formula Fords, had a challenging start to the season when his car was found to be underweight after qualifying. This meant a 10s penalty and he started the race from the pitlane.

RACE 2

The second race of the BRSCC Avon Tyres National Formula Ford 1600 Championship was full of incidents leading to safety cars, a red flag and the race to be shortened.

As the dust settled, the driver on top was Cliff Dempsey Racing’s, Spike Kohlbecker. Followed home by Ross Martin and Neil MacLennan, who enjoyed a nose to tail battle in the sprint to the chequered flag.

The day did not start well for yesterday’s race winner and pole sitter, Rory Smith when his Medina JL18 had to be pushed off the grid as the rest of the field were on their formation lap. This meant that Kohlbecker was in effective pole.

The first race incident was rookie driver Nicole Woods running wide and off, causing considerable damage to her Van Diemen JL15 which necessitated the safety car being deployed to enable it to be recovered.

As racing got underway Leigh spun out, hitting the barriers and virtually simultaneously an incident left Henry Chart out of the race as well, in what was turning into a miserable weekend for the former Formula 3 racer.

At the restart, the two men on the move were Rory Smith and James Clarke. Sadly, for Smith, his race ended when the next driver up the road, Morgan Quinn, missed a gear and Smith went into the back of him, leaving both cars with a lot of damage.

Meanwhile Clarke ended up with an impressive fourth place, having started back in 19th on the grid.

Max Marzorati was the winner in the Clubman’s Class, with the top rookie honours going to Scott Huntley.

RACE 3
The Snetterton crowd enjoyed a grid walk just before the third BRSCC Avon Formula Ford National Championship race of the event. Giving them the opportunity to get up close to both the cars and potential motorsport stars of the future.

It had been a very busy few hours for many teams after so much damage, including a few missing wheels in the first race of the day. It is a testament to the hard work of the mechanics that every car was on the grid for the final race.
A third different race winner showed how close this single seater championship is as Neil MacLennan delivered a victory to his Kevin Mills Racing Team in the final race.

Thanks to the top eight reverse grid draw, Clubman racer, Max Marzorati, was in pole position, but had known before the race that he was unlikely to stay at the front for long.

The former Renault Clio driver made a good start but behind him MacLennan was already scything his way up from sixth on the grid, and by the end of the lap he had taken the lead.

Also moving up the order were Ross Martin, Spike Kohlbecker and James Clarke.

Martin has shown good pace all weekend, having already scored two podium finishes. However, despite setting fastest lap he was unable to find a way passed MacLennan and had to settle for second this time out.

Behind the lead pair there was another fantastic battle between teammates Kohlbecker and Clarke who were locked in battle and trading places during the race. Cliff Dempsey assured us afterwards that he wasn’t nervous, which shows great faith in the driving ability of these two youngsters and the racing was certainly hard, but clean. In the end it was Clarke who secured the final place on the podium.

Further back Leigh’s nightmare day continued as he struggled to get off the line. The double F1 Esport champion’s Kevin Mill’s Racing mechanics had been flat out working to have the car ready after his previous race incident but sadly the rookie would then come into the pits to retire as did, Haeckel, Street, Chart and Jeansonne.

MacPherson was also a DNF having gone off at Agostini on the final lap.

Clubman Class honours went to the Belgian racer, John Svensson with the top rookie finish coming from Morgan Quinn.

ALEX BIRLEY