Champion of Brands Classic Formula Ford Features Historic Formula Ford HSCC

Three series in one weekend with Chris Porritt

The first of two slightly belated weekend roundup posts features Formula Ford 1600 racer Chris Porritt, who started five races over the long weekend in his Lola T200.

He started the weekend with a seventh place in the Champion of Brands event on Friday, as the only pre-’72 car on the grid. The winner was Matt Rivett in a 1991 Van Diemen, followed by James Hadfield in a Van Diemen RF03. Hadfield appears occasionally in Classic Formula Ford and races a number of historic cars alongside his father, Simon.

“I had a bit of fun with my old girl with the newer cars,” is Porritt’s take on the Friday race.

“The only difference [with modern cars] is that they’re very narrow, so they create much less slipstream than an older car. So with an old car, they can all just queue up behind me and just drive past me on the straight!”

He is used to multiple starts during a weekend.

“I normally race a car in the Aurora series as well as Formula Ford.

“It’s a little bit less stressful in one car, unless the races are directly one after the other, like they were at Donington.”

Wear and tear on a car can also be a factor when it is getting this much use, but Porritt isn’t too worried.

“I’ve got some spares for this car if I need them. And I’m not super hard on it, like the boys at the front.”

He will next be in action at the Silverstone Classic, driving in the Formula 2 race.

Image courtesy of Dan Bichener

Historic Formula Ford HSCC Opinion Uncategorized

When is a race not a race?

Readers of Vintage Formula Ford were expecting a first Historic race report from Brands Hatch on Saturday. The reason for that is that there was no race result to report.

First of all, we must acknowledge that an accident at Druids between Ross Drybrough’s Merlyn and Simon Toyne’s Lola resulted in Drybrough’s car turning over and Drybrough himself suffering a severe hand injury. Vintage Formula Ford wishes him a speedy recovery.

Normally, in the case of a red flag like the one which followed Drybrough’s accident, the race can be restarted. However, this red flag was the second one; the race had already been stopped after three laps to allow for the retrieval of Paul Unsworth’s Lola T200 from the gravel. Less than two laps were completed after the restart, meaning an insufficient amount of the 20-minute planned race length had elapsed for a result to be declared. Time pressures ruled out a second restart.

There are plans for another race to be scheduled later in the year to replace the voided one at Brands. Once it was known that Drybrough had got out of his upturned car by himself and that his injuries were not life-threatening, a certain amount of understandable disappointment came to the surface. After all, entry fees had been paid and some competitors had travelled considerable distances.

The issue of restarts and when to use the safety car is informed by several factors, including time pressures, weather, levels of marshal support and the severity of the incident.

The time issue is compounded by compulsory noise curfews at many circuits. This can be the result of land close to circuits being sold off cheaply due to noise concerns. The land is then built on and some residents then complain to the council about being able to hear engines. This is not a problem confined to motorsport; music venues have also suffered badly and even primary schools receive these sorts of complaint. It would help if noise nuisance claims were not taken seriously where a sports or entertainment venue already existed before land was developed, but this is a legislative issue and not easily solved quickly.

Marshal numbers are also an ongoing concern throughout motorsport. Sometimes this is due to multiple events on the same weekend, which cannot always be helped. Recruiting new marshals, especially younger ones, is important if problems like those at Brands are to be avoided in future. There are always hundreds of young people wanting to get more involved in motorsport and MSUK would do well to ask them what the barriers are to them taking up marshalling. Perhaps offering them a discount on license application or devising other competition-related perks for young fans and wannabe drivers who offer their services as marshals would help.

Weather is always a factor, but that of course cannot be helped.

(Image copyright HSCC)

Historic Formula Ford HSCC

Another win for Jackson as red flag denies McArthur

The first Historic Formula Ford race of the weekend was declared null and void due to an accident (more on that tomorrow), but Race 2 featured another robust stand-off between Cam Jackson and Tom McArthur.

Jackson nosed his Winkelmann over the line just over a tenth ahead of McArthur’s Titan on what should have been the start of the final lap, due to a red flag. Classic Team Merlyn driver Alan Schmidt had crashed quite hard at Surtees and triggered the stoppage.

An angry and frustrated McArthur did get ahead of Jackson for a lap or so and believed he could have taken him again with an extra lap. His fastest lap was marginally quicker than Jackson’s too. Action between the two was very close and got rather physical at times, with both scrapping over the same lines.

The chief rivalry was between Jackson and McArthur, but Classic Team Merlyn’s Horatio Fitz-Simon stayed with them for much of the race. He was closing on McArthur in the closing laps. The young Anglo-American driver is looking more confident and is adding some consistency to his skillset.

Samuel Harrison’s Elden had started off on the back of this group, but he lost ground and then had to visit the pits with a misfire caused by a loose plug lead. He rejoined but did not have enough time to get back to the business end of the race.

A fascinating tussle for fourth was won by Matt Wrigley, driving his usual Merlyn Mk11A/20. This was another race-within-a-race that could have been different with another lap. He had been part of a three-car drafting group with Will Nuthall (Jamun T2) and Danny Stanzl’s Elden Mk8 and the three swapped places almost every lap. Nuthall was only 0.019s behind by the end, with Stanzl a further 0.031s down the road.

Yet another three-car skirmish followed, which decided the result of the Over 50s class. Tim Brise was the victor in a Merlyn Mk20, having held off Brian Morris’s Lola T202 for long enough. Morris did overtake him briefly but he fought back. Kevin Stanzl brought up the rear of his group in his Crossle 16F.

Chris Lillingston-Price completed the top ten, driving a Merlyn Mk11, ahead of another hotly-contested spot; 11th was taken by James Russell’s Merlyn, ahead of Paul Unsworth’s Lola. Unsworth recorded his first finish of the year.

Tom Pearson, reported in the programme as being his father Ted, had a solid race in the family Merlyn Mk11/17. He was 17th from the back of the grid, just behind Harrison.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image courtesy of Richard Towler

Classic Formula Ford FF2000 Historic Formula Ford HSCC round up

Brands Hatch Superprix: qualifying round-up

Qualifying is now complete for the weekend’s Grand Prix circuit action, although changeable weather conditions mean that setups might need a little tweaking if paces are to be matched.

Jordan Harrison has put his Lola T540E on pole for Classic Formula Ford, beating late entry Cam Jackson fair and square, if only by 0.024s. Harrison admits to not liking wet races, but he also struggled with backmarkers during the session and is capable of going quite a lot faster. Jackson’s Winkelmann was similarly impeded, as was the Van Diemen RF81 of Henry Chart. Chart enjoys a wet track and will be keen to progress from third. Horatio Fitz-Simon was a little further back in his Merlyn Mk20, but it is unclear whether he is going to start the race, possibly promoting Ben Tinkler (Van Diemen RF80) to fifth. Rick Morris’s Royale RP21 was next, then another Lola driven by Simon Toyne. Stuart Kestenbaum (Van Diemen RF79), Jospeh Ahrens in Richard Tarling’s Van Diemen and Ross Drybrough’s March 709 complete the top ten.

Jackson managed pole position for the Historic race, closely followed by Fitz-Simon and Tom McArthur, who defeated him at Donington in the same Titan Mk3. Samuel Harrison is only contesting the Historic rounds this week in his Elden and will start fourth. Toyne and Drybrough secured a second top-ten start each, in fifth and eighth respectively. They were separated by the Elden of Danny Stanzl, on his home circuit, and Will Nuthall’s Jamun T2. Matt Wrigley (Merlyn Mk11A/20) is next, then Brian Morris’s Lola T202.

Ian Pearson and Graham Fennymore line up first and second in Formula Ford 2000, hoping to renew their rivalry from yesterday. Pearson (Royale RP30) will be hoping to avenge his defeat at the hands of Fennymore (Reynard SF81). Fennymore in turn will be hoping that the fuel float issue which scuppered his heat yesterday will not recur.

Andrew Storer is next up in his Reynard SF79, followed by Molly Dodd’s Royale RP27. Dodd will be looking to make up for losing her heat win yesterday. Graham Ridgway’s SF78 is just ahead of Nick Haryett’s SF79 in fifth, with the sister SF79 of Stephen Glasswell just under a second behind Haryett. Nathaniel Cooper’s Royale RP27 breaks up the Reynard train in eighth, followed by two drivers in Reynards, Ian Foley in an SF78 and Colin Wright in an SF79.

(Image courtesy of Richard Towler)

Classic Formula Ford Features FF2000 Historic Formula Ford HSCC

Brands Hatch Superprix: ones to watch

The HSCC visits Brands Hatch from tomorrow, with all of its Formula Ford series in action over a long weekend. Expectations are high after the superb showing at Donington; who is likely to shine, who’s new and who might cause an upset?

Historic Formula Ford 2000 gets underway tomorrow (Friday) with two heats and a final on the Indy circuit. Graham Fennymore will be hoping to capitalise on the absence of Benn Simms, whose car developed serious problems at Donington, and multi-champion Andrew Park. Ian Pearson was in the mix at Donington and his Royale RP30 is in the opposite qualifying group to Fennymore’s Reynard SF81.

A decent contingent of Van Diemen RF82s will join the Classic F3s, with championship leader Murray Shepherd the likely victor.

FF2000 also gets a run on the Grand Prix circuit on Saturday, adding an extra challenge and an unknown factor for some of the new drivers on the grid.

Classic Formula Ford will be sharing a grid with Historic Formula 3. Cam Jackson has elected not to enter this time, so Henry Chart and Jordan Harrison are likely to resume their battle at the front. Former champion Ben Tinkler will return to to Classic championship for the first time in a while, driving a Van Diemen RF80, and cannot be ruled out as someone who will cause an upset at the business end.

Ross Drybrough is making a rare Classic appearance in his March 709, as raced in Historic by Cam Jackson in 2020 and Max Bartell at the start of this year.

Jackson will be taking his place in Historic Formula Ford as well as sharing a Lenham GT with father Simon in the Guards Trophy. Fireworks are guaranteed as Tom McArthur has decided to join in, following his victory at Donington. Linton Stutely continues to be absent and Callum Grant is sitting this one out, but Horatio Fitz-Simon will be at the front, waiting to pick up as many points as possible and get in position should the leaders get it all wrong. Will Nuthall has entered his Jamun T2 and he may also be quick; the Jamun has proved an effective weapon at Brands in the hands of Richard Tarling..

The Over 50 class has a new challenger with the welcome return of Ted Pearson to the driving seat. Championship chairman Pearson sat 2020 out due to major surgery, but now his son Tom has a rival for their Merlyn Mk11/17.

Features Historic Formula Ford HSCC

Meet Nikki Cottrill

Nikki Cottrill made her HSCC Historic Formula Ford debut at Donington, coming away with one Newcomer class win and a class fastest lap.

Cottrill’s Lotus 61M was one of two newcomer cars on the grid, both of them driven by women. Her class rival was Zoe Newall, in a Palliser.

This was Cottrill’s first circuit race, but she has been involved in motorsport for about 15 years, competing extensively in hillclimbs. The Lotus belongs to her family and is one of a few cars she has regularly taken up the hills.

“We’ve got a Pilbeam and I’ve used that for four or five years,” she explains. “I’ve just got back into this (the Lotus) to do this really.”

“We also have a Brabham BT30 that my husband did a little bit of circuit racing in two years ago, before all the madness. He really enjoyed it, and I looked at the Formula Ford and I thought, I could have a go at that.”

This was not a spur of the moment decision, however.

“I got myself all ready, did my ARDS test in 2019, wanted to do it last year, obviously didn’t, so I thought, now’s the chance to have a go.”

She admitted to finding sharing a track with other cars, rather than screaming solo up a hill, somewhat daunting.

“My plan is to stay at the back and keep out of trouble.”

She wants to do some more Formula Ford racing this year, but will have to fit it in around the hillclimb season, where she is still competing, now alongside her son.

Image courtesy of Richard Towler

Classic Formula Ford FF2000 Historic Formula Ford HSCC Opinion

Formula Ford goes

From the outside, all of the HSCC Formula Ford categories appeared to be running smoothly, discounting the odd bump and gravel excursion. Only slightly under the surface, however, in the garage and the paddock, the last-minute effort required just to get out on track could be seen.

Last-minute entries

Historic Formula Ford 1600 winner Tom McArthur had always intended to race at Donington, but he wasn’t on the early entry lists as he had forgotten to get his forms in.

His fellow Historic racer Callum Grant heard that McArthur was racing and decided to get his own late entry in too.

Last-minute engines

Henry Chart was forced to miss both Cadwell Classic FF1600 rounds due to a blown engine. His Van Diemen RF81’s new engine was only just fitted in time for Donington; the work was just about finished on Thursday, meaning that qualifying was Chart’s first chance to test the new unit. Thankfully it was running well.

Formula Ford 2000 front-runner Benn Simms was less lucky. He had replaced much of his Reynard SF77’s engine the week before Donington, with the added pressure of moving house. The Reynard’s shakedown during qualification was less successful though and Simms was unable to start the race itself, with ominous noises coming from the back of the car.

Last-minute driver?

Formula Ford 2000 Class B leader Fraser Collins only just got into the circuit in time to qualify his Lola T580. More on Collins’s race against time tomorrow…

Image courtesy of Richard Towler

Historic Formula Ford HSCC

McArthur records first Historic win after epic comeback

Tom McArthur has won his first HSCC Historic Formula Ford race from Cam Jackson, fighting back from an off in superb style.

McArthur, driving a Titan Mk4, quickly took the lead after starting from fifth, but his route to victory was far from straightforward. Jackson’s Winkelmann was a constant threat but he also had to contend with Classic Team Merlyn driver Horatio Fitz-Simon snapping at his heels. He was holding off his rivals well when backmarkers came into play; he chose the wrong side to pass a slower car at the Old Hairpin and ended up skittering across the grass.

Not to be deterred, McArthur was back on it as soon as he could, biding his time before dispatching Fitz-Simon and then slipping past Jackson at the final chicane.

Jackson was second and was sanguine about the situation, freely admitting that he couldn’t keep on winning for ever. Fitz-Simon had made a couple of tentative challenges to his lead but could not make any of them stick, settling for third.

Callum Grant’s orange Merlyn was in the mix in the opening laps, having started rapidly from second. He was firmly in the leading group when an off at Craner Curves sent him through the gravel and plummeting down the field. He recovered well to finish fifth, behind Samuel Harrison’s Elden. Harrison took the opposite trajectory, starting at the back after a first-race non-finish and working his way methodically up the field.

Matt Wrigley (Merlyn Mk11/20A) had held fourth for much of the race before being picked off by Harrison and Grant. He was sixth. Brian Morris (Lola T202) won another Over 50 award in seventh place, having challenged Wrigley mid-race.

Ross Drybrough was second in the Over 50 class again and was eighth. A Stanzl family battle ensued behind, with senior Stanzl Kevin finishing in front of his son Danny.

Chris Porritt won his own private battle with Matthew Sturmer, who came through from behind. Porritt was driving another Lola and Sturmer had come through from the back, having crashed out of Race 1.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image courtesy of Richard Towler

Historic Formula Ford HSCC Uncategorized

Historic race decided by last-lap mishap

Cam Jackson narrowly beat Tom McArthur to the first Historic Formula Ford race victory at Donington after a final-lap coming-together between the two.

Jackson, in the Winkelmann, and McArthur, who is driving Simon Hadfield’s Titan Mk4 this season, had been locked in a classic Formula Ford game of chase from the very start. Jackson went slightly wide on his first pass through Redgate and McArthur capitalised, which began a series of passes and counter-passes on all parts of the circuit. Jackson had the upper hand, albeit not by much, when a safety car period put their battle on hold. The last-lap dash that ensued should have ended in a thrilling photo finish, but Jackson hit a kerb between Mcleans and Coppice, knocking his car out of gear and slowing momentarily. The chasing car of McArthur mounted the Winkelmann and flew over it before landing on its wheels. McArthur was able to finish the race in fifth, despite damage to the Titan. Jackson’s carburettor was also squashed flat during the incident, which meant a lengthy debate with the Clerk before results were issued.

Callum Grant was second in his Merlyn Mk20, having held third for much of the race and made a couple of attempts for the lead from McArthur and Jackson. His principal rival was Classic Team Merlyn driver Horatio Fitz-Simon, who passed him on several occasions but was unable to make it stick for more than a few corners. He was third.

Samuel Harrison’s Elden had been part of their chasing group and had made some promising attacks on Fitz-Simon and once on Grant, but a broken upright on lap nine put him out of the race just before Hollywood. Harrison’s departure was quickly followed by the safety car period; Matthew Sturmer (Macon MR8) and Mark Carter (Merlyn Mk20) collided at Redgate and had to be lifted free of the gravel.

Matt Wrigley just got past the ailing McArthur in his Merlyn for fourth place.

The Over 50 class was won by Brian Morris in his Lola T202 and he was sixth overall, finishing on top of a scrapping three-car pack with Danny Stanzl’s Elden and Ross Drybrough’s Merlyn. Drybrough was passed by Kevin Stanzl’s Crossle 16F in the closing stages, finishing ninth. Stanzl junior was seventh and his father eighth. Chris Porritt was not far behind Drybrough in his Merlyn and was tenth.

The new Newcomer class was won by Zoe Newall, who was 18th in a Palliser WDF2, ahead of Nikki Cottrill’s Lotus 61M.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image courtesy of Richard Towler

Classic Formula Ford FF2000 Historic Formula Ford HSCC round up

Qualifying roundup: all set for Donington drama

Qualifying for HSCC Formula Ford series has been a mix of familiarity and surprises, promising some dramatic races this afternoon and tomorrow.

The Trophy Trader/URS Classic Formula Ford championship was the first out and Cam Jackson wasted no time in putting his Winkelmann on pole. A shared session with Classic Formula 3 meant that opportunities for clear laps were limited, but most of the field managed to set a decent lap or two in the 1:16s.

Jordan Harrison has sorted out the suspension problems that scuppered his Cadwell chances and will line up second in his Lola T540E. Henry Chart’s Van Diemen RF81 has had a new engine after its Cadwell blow-up and he will start third, ahead of Samuel Harrison (Elden Mk8), who came very close to passing Jackson last time out. Rick Morris’s Royale RP29 was just a tenth slower in fifth and his Don Hardman Racing team-mate Stuart Kestenbaum was sixth, driving a Van Diemen RF79.

Historic qualifying was interrupted by a red flag; Cormac Flanagan crashed his newly rebuilt Alexis Mk14 into the wall after Roberts. Flanagan himself was uninjured by the car was not.

Jackson once again claimed pole but it was relatively tight at the top end of the grid, with late entry Tom McArthur less than half a second behind in Simon Hadfield’s Titan Mk8. Another late entry, the Merlyn Mk20 of Callum Grant, is about the same interval behind in third, ahead of the similar car of Horatio Fitz-Simon. Samuel Harrison pipped Matt Wrigley’s Merlyn to fifth place on the line, despite gearbox trouble. Wrigley was followed by Over 50 class leader Brian Morris’s Lola, with the Merlyn of Morris’s chief Over 50 rival Ross Drybrough snapping at his heels.

Graham Fennymore was the quickest out of two Formula Ford 2000 qualifying sessions. Group B was the faster of the two and Fennymore’s Reynard SF81 was the only car to get into the 1:12s. Ian Pearson’s Royale RP30 was second, followed by 2019 champion Andrew Park in his Reynard SF81 Newcomer Benn Tilley was fourth in Simon Ayliff’s Delta T80.

The big surprise in FF2000 was championship leader Benn Simms only managing sixth in Group A. Simms’s Reynard SF77 has had extensive work done to its engine and was down on power. Greg Robertson (Reynard RF79) was quickest in the group.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image courtesy of Richard Towler