FF1600 Championship in association with Wiltshire College – Round 1 - Qualifying. The galloping prancing horses had warmed up the track nicely, ready for the single seater machines to blow away their winter cobwebs. Most of the usual suspects were back with some new faces too. One notable absence was Adam Higgins, the ex-champion switching to a more roomy cockpit in the Ginetta GT4 Supercup, part of the glamorous TOCA roadshow supporting the British Touring Car Championship.
On the fresh faced front, championship sponsor Wiltshire College’s Motorsport division have a promising new pilot in the form of Matt Cox who has made the big step up from karting, as has Michael Eastwell who joins the dominant Kevin Mills Racing team. Another new name was Archie Hine who entered a Van Diemen JL12.
The most knowledgeable of FF aficionados will have noticed new engineering beneath Roger Orgee’s familiar livery. The reigning champion has chosen a shiny new Ray Racing GR17 to carry him on his attempt to his third consecutive championship title, one of three chassis this year which has appeared on the grid from the Croydon based formula car builders.
Michael Moyers set the early pace before having his third lap discounted for a track limit infringement. This left a very racy looking Luke Cooper at the top of the time sheets, but only for the briefest of periods as Moyers put in a more compliant lap with a storming time of 1:09:830 on lap 7 - three tenths faster than his own lap record from last season.
Cooper maintained his P2 position in his Swift SC16 ahead of Josh Fisher and the returning Robert Hall. Nathan Ward got the better of teammate Orgee for the prime place on the third row, only to see his Spectrum grind to a steamy halt on the finish line at the very end of the session with water pump failure.
Richard Morris drove his Swift to the best time in class B while Andrew Higginbottom got the better of his only competitor in class C.
FF1600 Championship in association with Wiltshire College – Round 1 Race
The Formula Fords were first to try the new ‘fast start’ procedure whereby the cars leave the assembly area in grid order and go straight out onto their green flag lap. Fortunately that went without a hitch with all the cars gridding up in all the right places, just as the Wiltshire sun made a welcome appearance. Moyers made a text book start, as did Josh Fisher quickly swapping places with Luke Cooper. Ed Moore also made one of his trade mark eager starts, making up a place with pretty much everyone else ending the first lap in the same positions as they had started. Fisher was all over Moyers on the second lap before the safety car came out for Richard Morris’ Swift which as stricken on the East side of the ciruit.
Nathan Ward found himself going backwards after the restart, pitting on the next tour of the circuit with a continuation of the cooling issues which curtailed his qualifying session. With Moyers and Fisher tussling for the lead, the chasing pack closed, Cooper finding himself simultaneously attacking Hall in front of him whilst having to defend from Orgee behind, evidently enjoying getting to grips with his new car. It stayed that way until lap 10 when Orgee stole 4th from Cooper before taking 3rd from Hall on the next.
Up at the sharp end, the leading pair had pulled away with Fisher taking slip-streaming to the extreme. The pair completed lap after lap with Fisher’s nosecone sheltering under the gearbox of Moyers, hinting that he was waiting for the right moment to make a challenge for the lead. That challenge came on lap 13, Fisher having a good look at Camp corner, but Moyers was able to defend and maintain his lead. This was to be Fisher’s only chance as he wasn’t able to mount another on the final lap, so had to settle for second place. Or so he thought…
As Moyers took the chequered flag he caught sight of another black and white signal from the pit wall, this one carrying his race number. Despite Moyers falling foul of the track limits rules on more than one occasion last season, he seemingly hadn’t learned his lesson. A five second penalty was handed to Moyers, gift wrapping the win to Josh Fisher. Orgee took third but hadn’t managed to get within 5 seconds of his team mate in front meaning Moyers didn’t slip any further down the finishing order. Michael was philosophical in his post race interview, taking his punishment on the chin and being pleased to secure the bonus point for the fastest lap. Rob Hall took 4th resisting the challenge from Luke Cooper who was no doubt a little disappointed not to make better of his front row start. The 3 newcomers could be rightly proud of their debut races with Eastwell, Cox and Hine finishing a credible 6th, 8th and 9th respectively.
Andrew Higginbottom took the class C honours in 10th place, getting in amongst all the newer machinery, ahead of Paul Barnes whose 11th place was enough to take the class B silverware.
Many things have changed over the closed season but the track limits rules haven’t – and neither has the price payable for breaching them!Posted on Wednesday 19 April 2017