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Classic Formula Ford preview: McArthur sets up Harrison showdown

The 2022 Classic Formula Ford season is just about to begin and there is a new name on the enry list. Tom McArthur, who pushed Cam Jackson so hard last year in Simon Hadfield’s Titan, is launching a combined Classic and Historic campaign in a Merlyn Mk20.

McArthur will be hoping to emulate Benn Tilley, who won the Classic championship in 2018 in the very same car, which is run by Hadfield and owned by his wife, Mandie.

This sets up the exciting prospect of a lead battle between defending champion Jordan Harrison and McArthur. Both are committed, uncompromising drivers, and two of the few Formula Ford competitors to have got the better of Cam Jackson.

Harrison has always had the speed to win in his green Lola T540E, but a more measured and tactical approach really paid off in 2021.

They are likely to be joined at the front by Richard Tarling, driving a Royale RP26 run by Enigma Motorsport. The 2017 Historic champion has always known when to use his aggressive side and when to go with the flow. He will be looking to make his mark again after an enforced lay-off due to complications arising from Covid.

Classic regular Ben Tinkler has finally decided against selling his Van Diemen RF80 and is another capable front-runner. We cannot rule out 2019 champion Rick Morris either, although he struggled with setup on his Royale RP29 all last year.

Running as a team-mate to his erstwhile driver coach Tarling this year, Joe Ahrens is out again in an Enigma-run Van Diemen RF80. He showed promise in his first year of racing and may be able to fly with the leading group in 2022. Jake Shortland, another younger driver, is also set to appear at Snetterton, having impressed at the circuit last year. He will be driving another Lola.

Not a new driver by any means, CFF President Stuart Kestenbaum will be debuting a new car, a Van Diemen RF81 that has been a “project” for a while.

Notable absentees include Henry Chart, who is doing a part-season this year due to other commitments, and 2020 champion Cam Jackson, who is taking a step back from full-time FF1600 this year.

By Rachel Harris-Gardiner

Rachel Harris-Gardiner is the editor of Vintage Formula Ford and former Historic editor for ff1600website.com. She is a regular contributor to Autosport and Motorsport News and writes her own blog about women in motorsport, Speedqueens.

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