WORLDWIDE DRAW OF FORMULA FORD
With a week to go before the Oulton Park curtain-raiser the Ford-backed championship has 29 registrations with several others in the pipeline. "We are expecting at least 28 on the grid for the first races," said championship manager Sam Roach, "and on the evidence of pre-season testing it's going to be a very close and competitive season."
Drivers from Australia and India will join a number of Danes & Finns on the grid together with competitors from the Netherlands, Ireland, France, Mexico, Cyprus, Jersey and England. At least six different chassis, powered by Ford road car-derived Duratec 1.6-litre engines, will be represented: Juno, Mygale, Ray, Spectrum, Spirit and Van Diemen.
Michael Norton, Motorsport Manager Ford of Europe, welcomed the international newcomers: "It is great to see that Formula Ford maintains its worldwide pull for young drivers seeking to make a name for themselves in the sport. It underlines the importance of Ford's commitment to young drivers and to the championship." .
Heading the impressive entry list is the four-car squad from the Jamun Racing Services team. Jamun drivers have won the championship for five years in succession – Liverpool's James Cole, since elevated to Formula 3, was the 2009 title winner for Jamun. Scott Pye, fresh from success in Australian Formula Ford, led the way in testing at Oulton earlier this month, but his team-mates Josh Hill – running number 0 this season, just like his dad, Damon, did in F1 in 1993 – Dutchman Jeroen Slaghekke and Dane Emil Bernstorff were not far off the pace. Pye is bidding to become the first Australian champion since James Courtney in 2000.
The Ray chassis last shone in British Formula Ford in 2007 but there are signs of a new dawn with the return to the championship of the Cliff Dempsey Racing team and drivers Scott Malvern and Ireland's Cormac O'Neill. Malvern was an engineer on Tim Blanchard's race-winning Jamun Mygale in 2008 and clearly picked up a trick or two, for when he switched to driving last year he won not only the National Formula Ford 1600 crown but also the Midlands and South titles. The works Ray team will be out in force also, with cars for Tristan Mingay and India's Zaamin Jaffer.
Leeds driver Daniel Cammish was a runaway winner in the Scholarship Class in 2009, winning the category 17 times. He steps up to the top class with a new-model Spectrum fielded by Kevin Mills Racing and must be a considered a contender for top honours.
The works Van Diemen team has some rapid talent on board, too: Jesse Anttila and Ville Kivinen both have Formula Ford experience from their time in the Finnish championship, while Staffordshire's James Tucker steps up after winning string of kart titles, including the 2009 Superkart Grand Prix. They are joined by multiple kart and sports car championship winner Kieran Vernon, who impressed in a family run Spirit in Formula Ford last season.
There are five drivers signed so far to contest the championship's junior division, the Scholarship. These are Mingay, Juno driver Luke Williams, Harkesport’s Adam Parsley, young Dane Jesper Egebart, who will campaign a Brits Academy-run Ray, and reigning Ford Fiesta ST Champion David Ellesley, who is to make his single-seater debut with a works-run Spirit.
Century Motorsport, the team run by 2006 Formula Ford Champion Nathan Freke, has joined forces with chassis manufacturer Juno to field a car for young talent Jake Green, while Jerseyman Dan de Zille, son of 1980s Formula Ford champion Graham, returns with a Minister International-run Mygale after a successful season in the Scholarship division.
Frenchman Philippe Layac and Finn Antti Buri are returning to the fray also, the former with new team Brits Academy and the latter with Linton Stuteley's Enigma Motorsport squad, and there are entries too from Getem Racing for ex-Ginetta Junior frontrunner Jake Cook and from Harkesport for Mark Harper. To complete the line-up JTR have added to the international flavour with their driver pairing of Tio Elinas from Cyprus and Dani Domit from Mexico.
Formula Ford, which this season gains new radial tyres developed by title sponsor Dunlop, will be contested over 25 races, with a mix of double-header and triple-race events spread over 10 meetings. Highlights of the season include five meetings supporting British Formula 3, one alongside the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, another supporting the DTM at Brands Hatch and a slot at Europe's F3 blue riband event, the Zandvoort Masters.
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