Victory and a podium finish saw Luke Williams open his attack on the 2012 Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain in fine style. Despite the adverse conditions he battled the elements to score his first win in the competitive championship.
Luke’s relatively late deal with the vastly experienced Jamun Racing team meant he saw just four days of testing in the new car before round one at Oulton Park last weekend (7th-9th April). “We only managed four test days, however each day was extremely productive, and we learned a lot about the car and also improved my driving style to suit the car,” said Luke.
A strong qualifying session saw Luke score a brace of second place starts for each of the three races, despite struggling with fierce tyre degradation throughout the session.
As race one beckoned Luke lined up on the grid for the first time this season, eager to beat pole man Antti Buri into turn one. A few nerves for a front row start got in the way slightly, with the youngster’s getaway being marred by a jump start. Despite receiving a drive through penalty, Luke battled away to ensure a third place finish and podium appearance.
Race two was a more challenging adventure. Rain did its best to interrupt play, meaning a wet race awaited Luke this time around. A slight drop to fourth place on the opening tour saw the Thirsk-based racer unfazed, as he mounted an attack on his rivals.
Sadly Luke soon found himself caught out by the treacherous conditions, being forced into a spin. Regardless of dropping to 14th place he chased his way through the spray to find third place. A further push to try and catch the runaway leaders meant the conditions again played their part, sending the Jamun Racing driver into the gravel trap.
“I swiftly made it to third place, but by this time the two leaders were at least five seconds ahead. I started pushing and closing the gap, however I pushed a little too hard in to druids and locked my rear left wheel, which made me aquaplane into the gravel, where I beached the car ending my race prematurely,” said Luke.
Fired up for another fight back, Luke took to the starting grid for the final time. Again faced with a sodden circuit this time he used the conditions to his advantage.
Luke cautiously made his way around the opening few laps, as he learned where the grip was on a very wet track. As those in front of him fell foul of the slippery circumstances, Luke was able to make his way into the lead.
At the fall of the chequered flag Luke enjoyed a seven second cushion to those behind him, as he scored his first victory. “I worked on building a gap, and by the finish I was over seven seconds clear of second place. I am over the moon with my first victory, especially in the tricky conditions,” Luke said.
Looking back over the first weekend of a new season, Luke said: “Before the start of the weekend we had high hopes of three podium finishes, but as the weekend progressed with the difficulties mechanically [an engine change late Sunday night], the changing weather conditions and still learning the car I am pleased with how it went. This makes us extremely confident that we will be able to go to the next meeting and hopefully make a clean sweep of victories.”
Luke will next be in action over the weekend of 18th-20th May, as the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain heads to Brands Hatch in Kent.
Strong results see Antti start season on top form
Easter Monday rain played a part in today’s Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain double header at Oulton Park; however it didn’t Stop Antti Buri from strengthening his championship charge.
A late entry saw Antti join his JTR team just last Wednesday, before heading to Oulton Park for the opening round a few days later. With two days testing of the new EcoBoost car under his belt, qualifying handed the Finnish ace pole position for each of the three races.
As the first race developed it was Antti who scored not only the first win of a new season, but also the first British Formula Ford win of his career and the first win for an EcoBoost machine.
After a day off for Easter Sunday, Monday 9th April saw action return to the track with races two and three ready to roll. A pole position start gave Antti the advantage he craved, and as the race began it was the JTR racer who led into Old Hall.
Close attentions from his nearest challenger meant Antti had a fight on his hands, however after he managed to hold his line during the opening lap his advantage remained temporarily intact.
Despite his earlier advantage, Antti was caught out in the treacherous conditions, meaning he lost his lead. After dropping to third place, he soon mounted a challenge, which saw him grasp second narrowly before the release of the safety car.
At the restart Antti was able to maintain the gap back to third place, giving him his second podium finish of the weekend.
The final race was again held in wet conditions. Another pole position placed Antti nicely back at the head of the field as another race got underway.
As the chase unfolded the race one winner was able to maintain his lead, as he built up a cushion between him and his pursuers. However all was not well, when on lap six the throttle on his single-seater became stuck, causing him to hit the gravel trap at Druids, the fastest corner on the circuit.
After regaining momentum, Antti managed to rejoin the race albeit in third place. Unfazed by the mishap he again pushed, however as the race neared the chequered flag an issue with his clutch reared its head. A determined drive saw the 23 year old work his way to third place, to bank yet another successful finishing position.
“It’s been a very good weekend and a great start to the season for me and the team,” said Antti. “I only got the car on Wednesday and given the wet conditions we were faced with it made things tricky. But we are now equal on points in the lead of the championship.”
“I think it will be a lot closer at the next round,” Antti continued. “It is a different sort of track and I think it will be a lot harder to break away at Brands Hatch. We have good pace though and will be testing there a few times before we race. I’m looking forward to it.“
Cook kicks off season in fighting style
As Jake took to the Oulton Park track for qualifying he was met by three strong starting positions. Despite difficulties during the session, the Jamun Racing ace would line up on the grid fourth, fourth and third, respectively.
“Qualifying wasn’t great, we were struggling with the set-up of the car,” explained Jake. “The first race was just damage limitation for me really. The first half of it was really good, and then I just dropped back as my rear tyres went off,” he added.
After a strong second place finish in the season opener on Saturday, a wet day welcomed Jake back to the track on Monday (9th April). A fourth place start for the first of today’s two races saw a feisty getaway leave him in second place after the opening tour.
From here the Rotherham-based racer went from strength to strength, as he slipped passed his chief challenger for the lead. After stretching out a seven second advantage, Jake’s lead was soon devoured by the appearance of the Safety Car.
As the race got underway once more the pressure was on for the Jamun Racing pilot to navigate his way towards success. Although his nearest rival kept him in his sights, Jake had built enough of a cushion to storm towards his first win of the season.
Just one more race was left to run, and as the rain continued to fall it was a wet race once again. This time starting from third place Jake made another sound getaway, as he set about chasing pole man Antti Buri for the top spot.
Determined as ever to score another enviable triumph, Jake laid in second place, as he waited for the opportune moment to pounce. However as others faltered around him, it was another strong podium finish that came his way, in what was an immensely successful start to a brand new season.
“It’s been a good weekend. Just to get another podium is good. It would have been nice to get a win in the final race as well, but I’m happy with the weekend,” Jake concluded.
The next round of the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain takes place at the infamous Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, on the 18th-20th May. The championship will be playing a supporting role to the prestigious DTM series, the German Touring Cars, which always provides masses of thrilling action.
Welter enjoys success on British Formula Ford debut
The first meeting of the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford championship of Great Britain was originally not on the Rendez-Vous Racing’s calendar, due to main driver Fabian Welter only doing selected races in his first year in the UK. However it proved a successful venture, with the youngster scoring twin victories on his first attempt.
The 16 years old’s intentions are to use this upcoming season as a learning curve; however after an encouraging pre-season test at Silverstone Team Manager Philippe Layac decided the season opener at Oulton Park would give his young driver a taste of what racing in the UK was really about.
The RVR team demonstrated their potential as Fabian topped the times in the first practice session. He further cemented his velocity in the next two sessions by occupying the top of the timing sheets yet again. Following his earlier dominance qualifying third on Saturday morning was a bit disappointing for Fabian; however it was a sterling effort after he suffered a little overheating in his rear tyres on a drying track.
As race one got underway Fabian passed five cars before reaching the first corner. Despite being re-passed by the fast paced new generation Formula Ford EcoBoost machines, Fabian held on to his early class lead, as he improved his lap times whilst his rivals faced various misfortunes.
At the fall of the chequered flag Fabian crossed the line with a 15 second advantage, to score his very first victory in the UK on his first attempt. Joy was shared by everyone at RVR, it also being their first race as a new team.
Race two would be even better for Fabian and RVR as they won in frantic conditions their very first wet race. Starting third Fabian was immediately in a position to pass those ahead of him.
However before long he became the victim of the horrendous conditions and fell off the track twice. Soon enough he was able to pass again and stormed through the last laps two seconds quicker than his class rivals, to finish in a remarkable fourth position overall scoring his second class win in a row.
Race three saw another brilliant start to put him in a position to show his skills on a very wet track. The difference of straight line speed with the EcoBoost cars made Fabian’s job more difficult, which allowed his Duratec Class rivals to catch up with him. After a brief off-track excursion Fabian fought back to fourth place, narrowly missing out on a third consecutive podium.
Following his UK racing debut, an ecstatic Fabian said: “I had a really good feeling with the car at Silverstone and immediately felt confident and competitive, so we thought that even without prior testing going to Oulton Park wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I must say that it is the best track I have ever been to and I have really enjoyed winning my first races in the UK.”
RVR Team Manager Philippe Layac said: “The bet has paid off well as Fabian has proved his great ability in tricky conditions. Good work was really well rewarded too as since Fabian arrived in January we’ve worked extremely hard every day on his physical condition at the RVR Academy. We’ve also focused on his concentration by watching a lot of video footage, sampling the simulator and taking part in all sorts of very stimulating activities, which is exactly what any racing driver needs to feel on top of his game.
“Working with Ross Curnow (ex Antel Motorsport) has proved to be very beneficial mechanically, and we were in a position to give Fabian a very competitive set-up for every condition he had to face during the weekend,” Philippe added.
Fabian and the RVR team are now focused on the second meeting of the season at Brands Hatch in May. Fabian will arrive there as the leader of the Duratec championship, with everyone at RVR eager for more success.
Words: Leanne Fahy
Photos: Jonathan Hatfield