Friday August 11, 2017
Croft Nostalgia Festival
Historic Formula Ford Qualifying
We were split into two groups for qualifying as entry numbers again were very high which is very encouraging to see! I ended up 4th on the grid in my heat with an OK lap, there was definitely room for improvement but I was happy.
Qualifying Race one
As I didn’t qualify in the top three of my heat, I found myself on pole for the Qualifying race of 31 cars. The top 20 would then fill up the remaining places for Championship Race 1. I had Sam Mitchell for company on the front row who was also 4th in his qualifying heat. We both got off the line well and were 1st and 2nd into the first corner, closely followed by Ed Thurston in 3rd. Lap one finished in the same order, unfortunately Ed had an engine issue which put him not only out of the race but the weekends racing altogether! For the remainder of the race, Sam and I were tussling for position and had broken away from Neil Shinner in 3rd. Of the 13 laps raced, I lead 10 and Sam lead three. When the chequered flag was dropped, I took the victory a mere 0.7 seconds ahead of Sam and the result put me in 7th on the grid for the first Championship Race.
Championship Race one
I had a decent start once again and I went for the inside line with Ben Tusting and Michael O’Brian ahead. Naturally the inside line was congested, resulting in a few cars flying up around the outside and overtaking me. After Lap one I found myself down in 8th, behind Ben Tusting and James Buckton. On Lap two I managed to use the slip stream from Ben and pass into Clervaux, then got past James into Tower Bend. I then followed Sam Mitchell for the majority of the race trying to reel him in, our lap times were almost identical up until lap 11, by which point we were coming across back markers. Unfortunately for Sam, he got blocked heading through the chicane meaning I was right under his gearbox and passed him into Tower Bend. On the same lap, race leader Callum Grant was also struck with back-marker issues resulting in him leaving the circuit and re-joining to finish P8. Across the line on lap 13, I finished 4th, just over a second behind Benn Tilley who finished 3rd, Michael O’Brien 2nd and race winner Richard Tarling.
Championship Race 2
I started in 4th, on the outside behind Mike O’Brien, with pole sitter Richard Tarling and Benn Tilley to my right. I got a great start, I was on the outside line into T1 with Richard Tarling on my inside and then Michael snuck through to follow Tarling into Hawthorne Bend. I was 3rd running down to Tower when I locked the front right tyre, but still managed to only lose one position to Benn Tilley. I maintained my position and continued onto Lap two in 4th. I missed my braking point into ‘Sunny In’ and ran wide off the track onto the grass. Sam Mitchell and the recovering Callum Grant both got past me, putting me down in 6th. Lap six saw the retirement of race leader Richard Tarling with a cracked radiator and I was now in 5th. Unfortunately Callum’s bad luck continued, contact with a back marker bent his steering arm, resulting in a DNF. The chequered flag came out and I finished 4th, coming away with 28 points from a busy weekend.
Guards Trophy with Ben Mitchell
After a good half day of testing on Friday afternoon to familiarise ourselves with the Croft circuit, having not driven there for several years, we were looking forward to qualifying for the Guards Trophy on Saturday morning. Happily, the weather was kind and no rain featured – conditions which would have been challenging in the powerful yet light Elva. Max took the controls for the first half of the session and posted a time which put us 4th overall, just behind a pair of Chevron B8s whose superior grip lent an advantage on the technical circuit. I got in when Max pitted midway through, and headed out on track straight away. After a couple of laps of getting into the groove and dealing with traffic, I posted a personal best time in the Elva which lifted us up to 3rd overall and 1st in class just before the end of qualifying, ready for the start of the 40 minute endurance race later that afternoon.
Max took the start of the race from 3rd on the grid. After dropping a couple of places off the start, he fought his way back to 4th and set about closing the gap to the TVR Griffith in 3rd place. A moment at Tower corner saw the Elva spin around, and Max dropped back a few places while he re-joined the track. In the laps before pitting at the midway point, Max reclaimed a few of the places lost. After the pit stop, I re-joined the track in 7th and some consistent laps helped close the gap to the cars in front, which were soon overtaken. With just one lap to go, I caught the 3rd placed TVR Griffith. Close to the back of the TVR down the back straight, I slipped past the Elva on Sunny In. The Elva moved clear of the TVR and took the flag in 3rd place overall and 1st in class, a great result!