PYE HEAPS PRESSURE ON MALVERN
Australian Scott Pye took a pair of fantastic Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain race victories at Snetterton over the Bank Holiday to narrow the points gap between himself and series leader Scott Malvern to just 25 points.
In reality they are even closer on points when 'drop scores' are taken into account: Pye then has an advantage of three points with eight rounds remaining.
Pye produced an excellent wet-weather drive during the day's opener, round 16, to see off a determined challenge from Daniel Cammish. Round 17 was the highlight of the Bank Holiday weekend though; vintage Formula Ford at its very best with Pye and Finnish star Antti Buri duelling wheel-to-wheel, lap after lap.
With never more than a few tenths of a second between the top two throughout the 16 lapper, the action was frantic but there was never even the slightest bit of contact – just superb racing from two incredibly bright prospects.
"That's one of those wins I'll always remember as it was so close but incredibly clean as well – we didn't touch once and Antti was very fair," said Pye. "It's been an unbelievable weekend. I have family coming over to England tomorrow from back home so it's fantastic to celebrate this with them."
The Jamun Racing driver started round 17 from pole thanks to his second best time in qualifying, pipping round 16 pole-sitter Emil Bernstorff by 0.051 seconds. Pye's Danish team-mate was in impressive form on Sunday to take his first pole start but he wasn't able to replicate the same performance in race trim.
Pye led away at the start as Bernstorff bogged down somewhat enabling Buri to slice past into second in his Enigma Motorsport Mygale. Bernstorff, Malvern, Invitation runner Garry Findlay (Fluid Van Diemen) and Cammish all duelled over third which soon enabled the top two to focus on their own exclusive fight.
Before the end of lap one Buri moved ahead but Pye hit back at Russell Chicane the next time around to trigger a constantly see-sawing battle for the lead. Only 0.3 seconds split Pye and Buri as the race entered its fifth tour but Malvern also then got in on the act in his Ray to make it three for the lead at one-third distance.
Buri began to mount a more serious charge from lap seven onward, posting the fastest lap of the race, 1m 09.391 seconds (a new record), to close back to within half a second of Pye.
With absolutely nothing to split the two leaders, Buri piled on the pressure but Pye repelled the challenge. On lap 11 the Finn moved ahead at the Esses and maintained a slim advantage for a couple of laps but Pye went back through at Sear after drafting Buri superbly along Senna Straight and through Riches.
His lead only lasted the length of the Revett Straight though as Buri instantly sought a way back past and moved to the head of the field again at the Esses. Building to a fantastic crescendo, Buri and Pye ran wheel to wheel into Riches on lap 14 with the Engima man just keeping his Mygale ahead.
Determined to add to his earlier success, Pye challenged into the Esses on the penultimate lap successfully but Buri repaid the favour on the last lap to nose ahead at the same piece of track. Unfortunately for him though he ran slightly wide on the exit and Pye shot back through, enabling him to take the win.
Buri commented: "It was a lot of fun, first of all it was a fair fight though – that was really important. It was very tight between me and Scott, I was leading on the last lap but I had a bad exit from the Esses so I'm not so happy with that but second is still a very good result."
All eyes were on the lead battle throughout but behind the top two the action was no less entertaining as Tio Ellinas charged through from eighth on the grid into the final podium placing.
Working his way into fourth by lap eight, the JTR racer got stronger and stronger as the encounter wore on and after pressuring championship leader Malvern for a couple of laps, he made his move for third at Sear on lap 10.
As the lead battle intensified, Ellinas and Malvern did close in but at the finish the Cypriot driver was still 1.7 seconds adrift with Malvern a further 0.9 seconds shy. Cammish ended the race in fifth, just a couple of tenths ahead of Findlay.
Bernstorff faded to a disappointing 10th place in the end, only 0.4 seconds ahead of the impressive Jake Cook – the Getem Racing youngster fighting through well from 20th, and last, on the grid after breaking his Mygale's differential during qualifying. That damage also forced him to miss the first of the weekend's races.
In the Scholarship Class, Luke Williams bounced back from a problem with the master switch on his Juno in the first race to take a clear win ahead of Tristan Mingay – the latter having profited from Williams' problem in the opener to increase his points lead.
Full results can be viewed at Click Here