Tuesday June 27, 2017
Cadwell Park is one of the most picturesque race tracks in the world, in my opinion. Originally built with two wheel racing in mind, it soon also built a reputation for four wheel racing and with the track being narrow with great undulation, it creates a great circuit for close formula ford racing.
With such a large field of Formula Fordsters, qualifying was split into two groups. The top 11 from each would form the first 22 positions in race 1 and the overall top four from the qualifying race would form the back four spaces.
The track temperature was beyond 25 degrees which meant it didn’t take long to get the tyres up to temperature. In Formula Ford they release the cars in championship order and with this being my first race, I was released 8th, being 16th overall. I qualified 3rd in my heat, just 0.03 seconds from 2nd and 0.5 seconds from 1st, and was to be 5th on the grid for the first race.
I got an OK start but was down in 7th by turn one (T1) as I was jumped by Ed Thurston off the line. I managed to hold the outside line around Charlie’s corner though and reclaimed 6th. From then on it was a fairly lonely race as I lost the tow from the lead group which made it difficult to catch them up. Towards the latter quarter of the race, the lead pack of five cars were battling hard meaning they were slowing their lap times and it was my chance to try and cut the gap! I drove a couple of fast laps and got in the tow of 5th placed Sam Mitchell but unfortunately as we came round for what I had thought was the last lap, the flag came down, just 0.3 seconds and in 6th.
Credit: Henry Richardson Photography
I started in 6th and was on the outside of the grid which meant my best bet was to maintain the outside line to the first corner. As the lights went out, Sam Mitchell on my inside got a better start, with Richard Tarling right on his gearbox who followed Sam through. I was down in 7th in T1, then Ed Thurston came on the outside around Charlies, and overtook me, as I had done to him in race 1!
On lap 2 I managed to pass Benn Tilley on the outside in T1 and then on lap 4, I overtook Ed Thurston down the Park Straight to take 6th. At this point I could see the lead group (Callum Grant, Nelson Rowe, Sam Mitchell and Richard Tarling) had pulled quite a gap and I needed to put in some consistent laps to bridge the gap.
Fortunately for me, two mistakes from other drivers helped me rise up the ranks. Nelson Rowe accidently switched the ignition off in the cockpit, meaning I was 5th, and on lap 9 through T1 I could see Sam Mitchell’s car facing backwards in a cloud of grass, he’d got it wrong on the exit and headed off into the outside of Charlie’s. Fortunately there was no damage and he was back on and continued and I was now 4th with three laps to go. Richard Tarling ran wide through the famous Gooseneck section of the track, meaning I was right under his gearbox as we went through the left hander. I overtook and was 3rd with two laps to go. I made a mistake getting sideways through the last corner and Richard was on me once again and slip streamed around the outside into T1. I followed him through and kept close enough to benefit from his slip stream, passing Richard on the outside through Down Park Straight and finished 3rd - what an eventful race!
Credit: Henry Richardson Photography
Looking back I was quite fortunate at times but that’s the nature of Formula Ford - small mistakes make all the difference with cars and drivers all so evenly matched. I’m happy coming away with 26 points and onwards, and hopefully upwards, with Brands Hatch on 1st - 2nd July. There I will have three cars out in Historic Formula Ford, Classic F3 and the Guards Trophy with Ben Mitchell, it will be a busy weekend but hopefully a successful one.