SPECTACULAR ‘STONE SETS UP MSA FORMULA TITLE SHOWDOWN
Ricky Collard took home Race 2 silverware to aid his title hopes – Photo: Jakob Ebrey
In a weekend that saw no end of incidents and thrilling racing, Lando Norris left Silverstone on top of the MSA Formula standings, however all the title contenders suffered a hiccup across the triple header weekend. Nonetheless, it now leaves us with a duel in prospect for the Brands Hatch finale.
Norris got the better launch off the line in Race 1 from first time polesitter Matheus Leist, who lost places on the opening lap after outbreaking himself into Maggotts. From there, Norris lead but not as comfortably as he’d have likes as his American teammate Colton Herta gave him cause for concern the entire way. Herta tried to make a move on two occasions into Luffield after catching a tow from Norris in front, but it wasn’t to be and the 15 year old Welshman held on to claim his seventh win of the 2015 season with Herta completing another Carlin 1-2. There was also another first in this race as Toby Sowery provided MBM Motorsport with his and the team’s first rostrum visit in 3rd, while Leist could do no better than 4th and title contender Ricky Collard could only manage 5th for Arden.
With the reverse grid for Race 2, the man who would end up benefitting the most would indeed be Collard as he made the most of a rapid start from 5th on the grid. Passing two cars on the opening lap and then moving past initial leader Daniel Baybutt, along with Sennan Fielding, Collard then set about aiming to overhaul the JHR Developments driver for the lead. It took him until lap 17 to be in a position to challenge, but amidst their battles Rookie class ruler Dan Ticktum had sailed to the rear of both with a view to making it past as well. Collard made his move on lap 18 stick and Fielding maintained enough momentum to contain Ticktum to preserve the top 3 in that order come the flag. Toby Sowery, who had spent most of the race embroiled in a epic scrap with Ticktum, came home 4th on the road before a 15 second penalty for track limits threw him down the order, leaving Leist and Baybutt to complete the top 5. Norris could do no better than 8th and had his work cut out for Race 3.
If there’s one word to describe the opening lap of that third race, eventful would certainly come close. Arden’s Enaam Ahmed clipped Fortec’s Josh Smith at Maggotts before a tangle between Collard and Ticktum at Brooklands sent cars every which way, resulting in premature ends of the races of Sandy Mitchell, Rafael Martins and Tarun Reddy. But it didn’t stop there – at the same spot next time around, with the safety car having only just been thrown, the front-running pair of Norris and Sowery miscommunicated with each other and ended up tangling. This threw both cars down the order and left Leist in front after starting P2.
During the safety car period, a rather unnerving incident took place when Ticktum allegedly made further contact with Collard following the first lap incident. The stewards would investigate this matter, while Collard continued with a damaged front wing which eventually led him to be black-flagged later in the race. Ticktum meanwhile was subsequently excluded from the result as he was deemed to have overtaken under the safety car and caused avoidable contact with Collard in the process. The resulting penalty points will mean he will not be present at the final weekend at Brands Hatch.
Leist retained his inherited lead from the restart with Herta once again playing the role of pursuer in 2nd. Despite best efforts, including setting the fastest lap of the race in his efforts to catch and pass the Brazilian, it was not to be for the second time as Leist did enough to secure the win by just 0.6 seconds from Herta. Ahmed had survived his first lap antics with Smith to finish the rostrum and also grab Rookie class win number 3 of his season, but behind the fight for 4th also ended in tears just before the end as James Pull and Dan Baybutt came together at Copse, Pull coming off worse as he ended up in the gravel while Baybutt fell down the field. The lucky beneficiaries were Falcon Motorsport’s rookie driver Darius Karbaley and Louise Richardson, both of which scoring their best results this season.
All of this means that with just the Brands Hatch GP round left to play, the title race is now between Lando Norris and Ricky Collard. The points gap is just 13 points between them and with a maximum of 75 points up for grabs between all 3 races, plus 1 point for each fastest lap and 5 points for pole in the qualifying session. It only takes just one slip from either driver in one session and it could be pivotal in swinging the pendulum either way. The likes of Herta, Ahmed, Fielding and Leist will play their own roles as well as attempt to steer the spotlight towards them throughout the weekend with their individual performances. Whichever way the crown goes, it will be a fitting end to an electric inaugural season for MSA Formula.
The full breakdown of the results via TSL Timing can be found here – SILVERSTONE RESULTS.