NATIONAL FORMULA FORD HEADS TO CROFT WITH TITLE ALMOST IN MURRAY’S GRASP
Niall Murray has stamped his authority on the Avon Tyres National Formula Ford 1600 Championship this season claiming victory in 10 out of the 17 rounds staged so far and comes to Croft on the cusp of clinching the title in a repeat of his success in the 2016 series.
Should he be successful in his quest then he will have once again earned himself a potentially career changing opportunity because, for those under 25, the Championship boasts one of the best prizes available in club level motorsport in the shape of a place in the end of season Mazda Road to Indy Shootout for the chance to win a scholarship worth US$200,000 to compete in the 2019 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda.
Murray’s deal with Team Dolan came together just before the season got underway and his Van Diemen RF99 was still being dialed-in at Silverstone’s first meeting of the season but this didn’t prevent the Irishman from recording third, second and then, finally, first place finishes during the course of the weekend.
While Murray has usually ended up on the top step of the podium, the series has an underlying competitiveness that matches any in the country – if not the World!
There have been 4 other race winners so far this season with the driver who is second in the Championship, the ultra-consistent Michael Eastwell in the Kevin Mills Racing Spectrum 011C, yet to take a victory at this level – although he recently won two rounds of the Northern Championship when that regional series had a “away day” at Silverstone.
A number of competitors have 2 victories to their name. One of these is Murray’s team mate under Bernard Dolan’s awning, Matt Round-Garrido, who had never previously won at National level while the other is Neil Maclennan who took the honours on home ground at Knockhill with a Ray GR16 fielded by Cliff Dempsey Racing.
Last time out at Oulton Park, Joey Foster joined the list of double winners when a dramatic last lap saw him leap from third to first place as Murray and Round-Garrido focused on each other rather than the rest of the opposition.
Foster has been accumulating titles in FF1600 since 2001 and has 3 victories in the Walter Hayes Trophy plus 2 more in the Formula Ford Festival to his name. At the start of this season, he was the first to see the chequered flag when he took the spoils in round 1 piloting a Ray GR08 tended by Don Hardman Racing.
One other visitor to the top step of the podium is Luke Cooper who almost won the title in 2012. He claimed the second race of this year in the Swift SC16 that the Cooper family team have developed into a rapid piece of kit over the past few seasons.
Formula Ford 1600 is a great starter category and it will be no surprise to see one of this year’s rookies taking a maiden win. Austria’s Nico Gruber has been getting quicker and quicker in one of Cliff Dempsey Racing’s Rays while American Carter Williams is another young man to watch in a Don Hardman Racing Ray GR10.