NORRIS CLAIMS HIS FOURTH MSA FORMULA WIN
Lando Norris is flanked on the podium by Ricky Collard (right) and Sennan Fielding (left). Photo: Jakob Ebrey
Lando Norris led all the way from pole position to chequered flag yesterday afternoon to clinch his and the Carlin team’s fourth win of Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula season. Saturday’s Oulton Park winner Ricky Collard followed the 15-year-old to the line for second place to retain his championship lead.
Collard had outgunned pole man Norris away from the startline in the first of the weekend’s races, but it was a case today of once bitten, twice shy for Lando: he made an impeccable getaway to lead Ricky into Old Hall Corner and by the end of the first lap had built a half-second lead.
It was plain sailing from there on for Norris – apart from a brief Safety Car period, which he handled well – and he smashed the day-old lap record for Oulton’s Island circuit on the way to a 3.7-second victory. Said Lando from the top step of the podium: “For once I got a quite decent start. I was disappointed yesterday with my start and it cost me the win so it’s pleasing to have got it right this time. The Safety Car was a bit of a worry but I made an OK restart, although Ricky was a little closer to me than I would have liked. I’m looking forward to the next races at Croft now because it’s the circuit where I had my first win last year.”
Collard was pleased with his weekend’s work: a win and a second place which leaves him seven points ahead of Norris in the standings as the series heads to Croft in three weeks for the championship’s mid-point meeting. “It was a good weekend; we’ve had the pace and the team has done a great job. I tried everything I could at the start but I think Lando had been looking at his data and he made a better start this time.”
Sennan Fielding was also beaming on the podium. The Chesterfield racer had no great hopes of displaying the sort of pace he showed on Saturday to win Round 11, not least because he was starting from 10th on the grid. But two incidents within the opening two laps played perfectly into his hands.
The first came at the hairpin on lap one when fourth-placed Colton Herta (Carlin) locked up and cannoned into Rafa Martins’ SWB Motorsport car immediately in front; Martins was spun around but got going again, Herta’s machine was badly damaged. Post-race, Colton was penalised by race officials with a five-place grid penalty for the next race.
At the same spot next time around, and with yellow flags still waving to denote danger, Double R driver Matheus Leist tried an up-the-inside manoeuvre on third-placed Jack Barlow (MBM) and the pair collided, with Barlow an instant retirement and Leist able to continue. He was later excluded from the results.
All the drama played perfectly into Fielding’s hands; the first helped promote him to fifth on lap one and the second boosted him to third, which position he held to the flag for his third podium of the season. “I wasn’t expecting to finish on the podium,” said Sennan, “especially here where it’s so hard to overtake. But everything came together and I was in the right place at the right time; the incidents were unfortunate for those involved but fortunate for me. I didn’t have fresh tyres, so I played it safe.”
Leist’s car sustained a badly bent front wing in the clash but the Brazilian was able to fight the resulting understeer to the end to cross the line, fending off the attentions of Petru Florescu (Carlin) in the mid stages and towards the end those of Fortec’s Dan Ticktum, who had passed Florescu for fifth, and the Rookie class lead, on lap 11. With Leist’s exclusion, Ticktum was classified fourth and Florescu fifth.
Championship newcomer Toby Showery enjoyed a strong run for Fortec from 11th on the grid to sixth at the line, passing JTR’s James Pull on lap six, with Tarun Reddy also finding a way past Pull for seventh on the penultimate lap. Pull and his team-mate Dan Baybutt finished eighth and ninth, with Josh Smith (Fortec) claiming his best finish of the weekend in 10th.
TRS Arden team-mates Enaam Ahmed and Sandy Mitchell finished in line astern for 11th and 12th, with Louise Richardson overcoming the pain of her badly blistered hands to secure 13th for Richardson Racing. Martins, whose strong prospects from third on the grid were dented by Herta’s first-lap assault, came home 14th.
Jessica Hawkins (Falcon) racked up the third finish of her debut MSA Formula weekend to take 15th, ahead of Jack Butel’s SWB car and Ollie Pidgley, whose Richardson Racing car survived a lurid late-race spin and grassy moment. Darius Karbaley (Falcon) had to take swift action to avoid collecting Pidgley; he finished 18th. JTR’s Ameya Vaidyanathan joined Herta and Barlow in retirement.
You can read full reports on all three of the Oulton Park MSA Formula races at http://msaformula.com/latest-news/