Formula Ford has been one of the best-loved and most exciting forms of junior level single-seater racing around the world for more than 50 years, and here in the UK the competition is at its peak. The Avon Tyres National Formula Ford Championship regularly attracts young, talented and skilful drivers both from the British Isles and from overseas, and the amended 2020 season begins at Oulton Park, as they share a grid with their sister series, the Avon Tyres Northern & Super Classic Championship for all three meetings.

In the National ranks, the man heading the entry for the season opener will be defending champion Ross Martin of Team Dolan. Having been unsure of what his plans were for 2020 at the start of the year and touting a possible cameo appearance or two on the National grid at the time, Martin now has the honour of carrying #1 on his car for the season. Eight race victories carried him to the 2019 championship title and now in this shortened 2020 campaign, he’ll be aiming for back to back crowns.

His nearest challenger returning from last season will be Rory Smith, a former Northern champion that has come on in leaps and bounds in the last couple of seasons and has proven himself to be a race winner, taking two at National level last year at Snetterton and Silverstone and a further eight podium finishes to take 3rd in the final points places. He will certainly be keen to build on a successful 2019 and challenge for the title this time. Another driver who will be in contention for race wins on Saturday at least will be Neil Maclennan, who had been considering a move back to shifter karts before agreeing a deal with Kevin Mills Racing to pilot one of his Spectrum chassis again. Despite not completing a full season, Neil only finished outside the top 5 once in all the races he contested, which included three wins. Whether he’s in for the entire season remains to be seen, but if so, he could be another driver to potentially spoil Martin’s back-to-back ambitions.

There are other returnees on the grid who will be looking to make an impact this season. Cliff Dempsey Racing has undergone a change of ownership and name, as Andy Low takes over the helm at the rebranded Low Dempsey Racing. Leading their line-up will be 2019 Formula Ford Festival champion Jonathan Browne, now into his third National season and hoping to be a title contender this time. Team Dolan’s ranks once again include talented young racer Morgan Quinn and B-M Racing will run former British F4 racer Jamie Sharp, both keen to improve on their rookie seasons and make further progress up the field. 

Plus, Castle Combe alumni and National regular Luke Cooper is back for more too, hoping to take the Swift Cooper chassis all the way to the top this time. Other familiar names back on the grid this weekend include Matthew Cowley, Chris Middlehurst, Jack Wolfenden and David McArthur, all keen to make an impression straight away. Seasoned Formula Ford racer Adrian Campfield will also appear once again, back at the wheel of another KMR Spectrum, and Oliver White has elected to join the National ranks for 2020, bringing a Souley Motorsport Medina chassis out to play in the hope to add a National title to his Heritage Formula Ford success from last year.

Then, we come to the influx of new talent gracing the National grid this season. Partnering Browne at Low Dempsey Racing will be two up and coming American racers – Bryce Aron returns to the UK after contesting the Festival last year and brings Formula F experience from the US in what will be his first full campaign in Europe, while Grant Palmer has limited racing mileage under his belt but will be keen to absorb every last drop of knowledge from racing on British circuits against such a competitive field. KMR’s line up is completed by Reece Lycett, who makes the switch from slicks and wings in the F1000 series to pure mechanical grip and skinny Avon tyres in Formula Ford. Reece has been testing extensively to get up to speed and looks quick, so perhaps he could cause an upset or two in the process. Another driver with plenty of pre-season mileage is Thomas Ward, a former Junior Saloon Car Championship graduate that has made the switch to single-seater racing and does so with Andy Brickles’ B-M Racing squad. He too will be hopeful his seat time will pay off in the long run. Oldfield Motorsport features an all-new pairing as Belgian youngster Milan de Laet will race alongside karting graduate Daniel Mackintosh, with both keen to get started on their circuit racing journeys, and finally, Alex Walker makes the switch from British F4 to a Van Diemen RF00 chassis with PWR1 Racing, and he will be looking to put his season of racing on the ToCA package to good use straight away.

For 2020, the Avon Tyres Northern & Super Classic competitors join the same grid as their National compatriots. The three race calendar visits the two venues that are mostly utilised by the regional championship, with Oulton Park and Anglesey preceding a trip to Brands Hatch a month before the Formula Ford Festival in October.

The P Class for the most contemporary Formula Ford chassis will see three drivers do battle, with Neil McArthur set to face off against Nigel Dolan and Andrew Thomas. McArthur and Dolan ended up 49 points apart in the final Post 98 standings last year, with Dolan finishing 4th in those standings as well as in Class P and in the Champion of Oulton. As for Thomas, he will be keen to hit the ground running and score a class win or two. The Super Classic A class looks set to be a straight duel between defending champion Seamus Wild and Formula Ford returnee Neil Plimmer, who makes a comeback to the category after several seasons racing in FunCup.

Super Classic B looks set to be the most hotly contested of all the SC classes and with neither Andrew Schofield or Nick Barnes set to be on the grid, the way is clear for a new class winner. Syd Fraser, who finished 3rd in points last year, could be the man to beat but may have Richard Ketterman to contend with on this occasion. BRSCC chairman Peter Daly is also a handy pedaler and will be looking to put his 1988 Van Diemen as high up the order as possible, and may even find himself on the podium if fortunes go his way. Souely Motorsport has two classic chassis in their line up as they bring Jonathan Barnes and Neil Patten to the fore, while Trevor Morgan completes the class line-up.

Colin Lawson will have ambitions of holding on to the title of Super Classic C champion and will have Samuel Harrison to contend with for this opening pair of races, while over in Super Classic D, Phil Nelson will hope to go one better than his 2nd place in the class points in 2019 and will have Jason Cheetham for company as Hawke and Merlyn chassis respectively get ready to face off against one another.

All in all, this will mean a bumper grid of 34 cars in total, making it one of the biggest non-Festival grids that BRSCC Formula Ford has had in recent years! We’re really looking forward to seeing everyone on track again and to showcase the fact that Formula Ford racing from the UK is arguably the most competitive racing you’ll find from the category around the world!

Scott Woodwiss


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