Race 1: A sunny day at Castle Combe always draws a crowd, especially when Formula Fords are on the menu and today was no exception. A mass of spectators were treated to some very close racing although there were unfortunately also more than...
A sunny day at Castle Combe always draws a crowd, especially when Formula Fords are on the menu and today was no exception. A mass of spectators were treated to some very close racing although there were unfortunately also more than enough Safety Car periods and red flags on this tight track. At the end of the day's racing Scott Malvern was still holding the lead of the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain, by virtue of his consistency so far, though Australian Scott Pye was back in contention by the end of the weekend after two podium finishes. The other man on the podium this weekend was Josh Hill, son of Damon, grandson of Graham, and beginning to look like a chip off both blocks as he hits his stride in car racing.
Race one, early on Sunday morning, set the tone for a lot of what was to come. Partially this was down to qualifying which led to a grid that had people at the back that should have been at the front and vice versa. This was a result of some sort of collective Midsummer madness that seemed to grip many of the young hopefuls during the course of Saturday's practice session, with some people apparently labouring under the misapprehension that they were racing, not qualifying.
Anyway, they had seemingly calmed down somewhat as they lined up the collecting area ready to start race 1. As they finally assembled on the grid in the right order, there was a slightly worrying moment as Jeroen Slaghekke failed to line up on his grid slot, had to reverse and then thankfully moved forwards again, thus avoiding any silliness when the starting lights finally went out. As the field took off towards Quarry for the first time, local specialist Marcus Allen failed to get away and was pushed into the pits, eventually joining in after the rest of the pack was gone. Meanwhile, Pye had got the drop on Hill, smoking his tyres off the line, and tearing away into the lead, leaving Hill to try and hold off Daniel Cammish who was making determined efforts to get past, while behind them Malvern was playing a waiting game and hoping that one of them would make a mistake. Next up were Dan de Zille and Tio Ellinas who were involved in a ferocious scrap of their own, while Antti Buri had battled through to 6th. It didn't take long for Pye to break away from the battling pack, and Cammish and Malvern both found a way past Hill, dropping the youngster to 4th. Shortly afterwards Malvern also got the drop on Cammish, who then lost out to Hill as well, only to find he was now being eyed speculatively by Buri.
Further back there was plenty of excitement too, with Jesse Anttila, who'd started last, fighting his way up through the field. As the front runners began to separate out - though not before Buri set a new fastest lap of the race in his by now successful efforts to pass Cammish and set about Ellinas - what was happening in the middle was far more interesting, as Jake Cook held off James Tucker, Chrissy Palmer (back in action for the first time after breaking bones in both hands 6 weeks previously), Slaghekke, Cormac O'Neill and Tristan Mingay, the six of them all over each other for 7th. They would remain glued to each other in various combinations all the way to the chequered flag, providing a thrilling spectacle and proving that there are some very talented drivers out there this year, among them Tucker who proved the equal to everything that the far more experienced Palmer could think up. They all gained a place after Cammish went off too, leaving Buri and Ellinas battling over 4th for what remained off the race.
And so Pye won the first race from Malvern and Hill, while Ellinas claimed the fastest lap. The Scholarship Category went to Daniel Domit, despite the fact that Mingay set the fastest lap in the class and the Guest Class was won by Palmer from Allen.
For the second race of the weekend at a hot, sunny Castle Combe, it proved more than slightly difficult to actually complete the race. It probably didn't help that the previous races on the programme all overran after Safety Cars and red flags disrupted what had initially looked like a fairly leisurely schedule. It didn't seem to trouble Scott Pye, the Australian taking a fine second win of the day despite the mayhem behind him. 2nd was Josh Hill, the youngster again losing out at the start and not quite having the answer to his opponent. 3rd was series leader Scott Malvern, again netting useful points and proving the most consistent man out there yet again.
At the start things seemed reasonably calm once again, though from the back Jesse Anttila was a man on a mission, setting off as if someone had put a rocket under him. He was 13th (from dead last) before the pack got through Quarry, though whether any further progress was going to be possible was questionable because he was now bottled up behind Chrissy Palmer, who wasn't likely to give anything away. Meanwhile, Pye had once again got the drop on Hill, while Daniel Cammish and the find of the season, Tio Ellinas, were also right up there with the leaders. Malvern was behind the two of them and looking set to capitalise again if the opportunity should arise.
Back in 7th, Jeroen Slaghekke was having trouble with Antti Buri, the Finn wanting that 7th place if he could get it, helped by knowing that if he could get past the Dutchman there was an opportunity to set off in pursuit of the leaders. Meanwhile as Emil Bernstorff set a new Fastest Lap, Anttila ended up locked in a tussle with his own team-mate, James Tucker, which led to a mistake from Tucker that dropped the diminutive rookie down several places, though not before Marcus Allen and Cormac O'Neill also joined in. At the front Ellinas was desperately trying to relieve Cammish of 3rd, but suddenly no one was looking that way because Palmer was off big time. The car was wedged under the barriers and with a Medical Response car and a snatch vehicle scrambled there was little choice but to red flag the race after only 8 and a bit minutes.
After a very long delay, while Palmer was rescued, the cars lined up in the order they had crossed the line a lap before the incident. There would be a new sprint race of just 5 minutes with Pye starting from pole, from Hill, Cammish, Ellinas, Malvern, Bernstorff, Slaghekke, Buri, Dennis Lind and Dan de Zille. In 11th would be O'Neill, from Anttila, Marcus Allen, Tristan Mingay, Tucker, Luke Williams and Dani Domit. And that was it for restarters; everyone else was out of the race.
With only 5 minutes to make their point in, the race was inevitably something of a let down though it didn't stop Malvern from setting about and passing Ellinas, while Hill briefly held the lead before Pye decided he wasn't having that and snatched it back. Buri, meanwhile, was 8th from Anttila, until his compatriot got it all wrong and dropped right back, leaving the older man in peace for what little remained of the race. Tucker, on the other hand, had also got things a bit wrong and was off somewhere... It was as well there wasn't much time left because we were fast running out of cars. By the time the flag fell to signal the end of round 10, there were only fifteen runners left.
With Pye leading from Hill, Malvern absorbed the pressure from Cammish (who set the fastest race lap), while pushing Hill hard all the way to the flag. And so Pye won again, from Hill, Malvern and Cammish. Ellinas was 5th from Lind, Slaghekke, Bernstorff, Buri and de Zille. 11th was Anttila, from Guest Class winner Allen, O'Neill, Mingay (winner of the Scholarship Class) and Williams.