OWEN WINS NORTHERN SHOWDOWN


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Sheradize UK #251 completed victory in the final FunCup encounter as JPR Uvio clinched the title – Photo: Marvin Hall

With little more than a handful of points separating those at the top of the standings in the Post '89 and Pre '90 Classes of the Avon Tyres Northern Formula Ford 1600 Championship there was bound to be plenty of fabulous single-seater action in the final 2 rounds of the season when the BRSCC’s North Western Centre took charge at Oulton Park on 8th October… and that is exactly what happened.

From pole Chase Owen was the first to reach Old Hall in his Ray GR14/15 when the red lights went out at the start of the opening encounter for the Post '89 cars. Coming into this meeting the American had a 2 point advantage over Manchester’s Matthew Cowley. The latter’s chances of taking the title suffered a set-back on the opening lap when he dropped to fourth after his Van Diemen JL13 was overtaken around the outside at Cascades by the LA10 model from the same marque belonging to Dave McArthur.

On the following circuit McArthur was up to second after executing an identical manoeuvre on Josh Smith (Van Diemen JL13) before he put Owen under extreme pressure. With the leader having to defend, the rest of the pack – including the Van Diemen JL13 of fifth placed Doug Crosbie – closed in. With 5 fighting for victory, this was Formula Ford 1600 racing at its best. A mistake by McArthur as he made a bid for the lead at Lodge allowed Smith up into second while Crosbie further compounded Cowley’s misery by taking fourth from him.

In race 2 Owen confirmed himself as the Northern Post '89 Champion with another win as Cowley was classified fifth once more. As McArthur completed lap 1 in fourth after a nightmare start, Smith was able to comfortably come home as runner-up while McArthur overtook Crosbie during the course of the 20 minutes to complete the podium once more.

In the Pre '90 Class, over recent weeks a clutch problem on Jamie Jardine’s Reynard 84FF had allowed Jaap Blijleven (Reynard 88FF) to close to within 6 points of the Northern Championship’s leader but now, for the final two races of the campaign, Jardine’s car was in full working order. Their first duel was very intense. Jardine was ahead but his rival from Holland was ever present in his mirrors, never close enough to mount a challenge but in position to capitalise on any mistakes. On the last lap Blijleven made one final all or nothing effort. He was looking to get good run out of Hislops to put himself within striking distance but he applied a little too much gas, got sideways and ended up on the grass. He kept going to hold on to second place.

The second time they took to the tarmac, the surface had become more slippery. Both had their moments, with Jardine almost going off at Old Hall but Blijleven endured the most difficulties in coming to terms with the conditions and dropped back out of contention for the win. Chris Stones had taken third earlier in the day but this time around he was delayed by a start-line incident which allowed Nick Barnes to take the place. Barnes’ Van Diemen RF87 model was one year older than that driven by Stones.

A car with a loose wheel that had spun on to the grass at Cascades caused the Safety Car to be scrambled just as the final pit-stop window was opening in the Fun Cup encounter. The leading Sheradize UK entry elected to stay out as many other teams seized the opportunity to make their last driver changes. This meant when Sheradize UK made their stop, they rejoined down in ninth position. Even though there were only 20 minutes remaining when racing resumed they were still able to battle up the order to take the win from CCS Media and DespatchBay.com. After 4 hours of racing, less than 3 tenths covered the podium places. Despite finishing down in eleventh, the JPR Uvio team were declared 2016 Champions.

A brilliant move round the outside of Michael Blackburn’s XR3i on the approach to Druids enabled Justin Roberts to win race 1 of the Lee Bowron Ltd XR Challenge. The XR2 man did the double later in the day – a feat he had never previously accomplished. Blackburn and Ralph Fernihough completed the first podium of the day but both failed to finish the second encounter – Blackburn ended up in the barriers at Lodge.

Each time they came under starter’s orders, the XR runners had their share of first lap drama. In the first encounter the reigning champion, Michael Heath, spun at Cascades. As the field bunched up behind him Steve Poole suffered enough damaged to force him to retire. The second time the red lights went out, the first 4 tried to take Old Hall as one causing Greg Speight (XR2) to spin – everyone else made it through unscathed. He managed to continue and join Steve Poole as he charged through from the back of the grid. The pair finished second and third which was enough for Speight to be declared XR2 Champion with the XR3i Class in 2016 going to Michael Taylor. This time around, Heath’s event ended in the pits when a fuel pipe came adrift on his Fiesta.

The Nextec Puma Cup ran alongside the XR’s with the honours being taken by James Clare and Luke Johnson.

You can view the full results at OULTON PARK RESULTS

Dave Williams