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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

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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)

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Classic Formula Ford HSCC

Jackson gets lucky in tricky Classic race

Cam Jackson needed all the good fortune he could get in the second Classic race at Brands Hatch, but he still managed to win.

Winkelmann driver Jackson benefited from countback on a restart and was quicker off the line than Henry Chart’s Van Diemen, who was nominally ahead. Chart was determined to keep with Jackson and attacked on several occasions, but conditions intervened and he spun on the final lap. Chart admitted after the race that he didn’t know why his brakes locked up, but the track was slippery and gave him no chance. He was fourth in the end.

The race could have been very different without a red flag. An F3 car went off at Paddock Hill Bend and changed everything. At this point, Chart was ahead, having got on the back of Jackson fairly quickly and passed him efficiently. Just after the F3 off, Jackson had a spin of his own and went sliding through the gravel at Paddock Hill. He rejoined in fifth and would have struggled to get back with Chart without a restart.

Ben Tinkler (Van Diemen RF80) was second, adding to his podium finish yesterday. He was troubled by Jordan Harrison’s Lola T540E and briefly passed but he had put a couple of seconds between himself and Harrison by the time the chequered flag came out.

Harrison confessed to having got his tyre pressures all wrong, but he was far quicker and more comfortable on a dry track.

Rick Morris was very close to Chart on the line, but the experienced Royale driver claimed that it was one of the most frightening races he had been in, due to oil on the track.

Joseph Ahrens was sixth in Richard Tarling’s Van Diemen RF80, having got ahead of Stuart Kestenbaum’s 1979 machine. Kestenbaum was safely ahead of new Classic driver Simon Toyne, who steered his Lola to eighth from the back of the grid, having failed to finish on Saturday. The similar car of Chris Porritt was ninth, but some way behind. Mark Harrison was tenth in his Royale RP21.

Also coming from the back of the grid was Simon Clews, in his distinctive frog-green Royale RP24. He made strong progress in the early part of the race. James Fettiplace, who had ploughed a Van Diemen RF80 into him the day before, was 17th, both drivers having repaired their cars overnight.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image courtesy of Richard Towler

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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

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FF2000 HSCC

Fennymore puts Pearson in his place

Graham Fennymore has won another Formula Ford 2000 final at Brands Hatch, defeating polesitter Ian Pearson.

Fennymore started second in his Reynard SF81 and was right on the tail of Pearson’s Royale RP30 from the start. He sneaked past Pearson at Graham Hill Bend on the opening lap and kept his lead, despite Pearson’s best efforts. For most of the race, he shadowed Fennymore in his matching white car and it was only right at the end that the eventual winner was able to put any clean air between himself and his rival. It looked as if Fennymore was getting away at mid-distance, but Pearson re-attached himself, only to be shaken off at the end.

Andrew Storer, driving the “Pukka Pies” Reynard SF79, was third, some way behind the leading pair and never really challenged by the rest of the field, which was led by Molly Dodd. The Spalding teenager was looking to make up for her hefty penalty in her heat, which denied her a win in her Royale RP27. She was not able to catch Storer but she did a great job of seeing off Nick Haryett’s 1979 Reynard, which did threaten her early on. Haryett held fifth for a long time but was passed by a charging Jon Finch, whose SF79 needed major work between qualifying and today’s race after a crash. Finch did well to progress steadily from 11th, making his final push past Haryett and the SF79 of Stephen Glasswell, who was seventh.

The Royale RP27 of Nathaniel Cooper was eighth, some way ahead of Adrian Reynard. Reynard was another driver who made up many spots from a lowly qualifying position, taking his SF79 from 24th all the way to the top ten. Ian Foley was next in an SF78.

A lively midfield battle just behind the top ten was won by Jennifer Ridgway in another SF78, who got ahead of Roger Price’s Delta and Antony Raine’s Merlyn. Raine was the Class B winner.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image courtesy of Richard Towler

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Classic Formula Ford HSCC

Jackson defeats the rain

Cam Jackson has capitalised on a late entry in to the Classic championship with a win in the first race at Brands Hatch.

Jackson had qualified his Winkelmann in second place but got a good start and was never seriously challenged for the win. Henry Chart also got a great start in his Van Diemen RF81 and held second for the entire race, which was cut to twelve minutes after a full restart.

Jordan Harrison was hoping for a better restart after slipping to fifth in his Lola T540E, but wet tracks are not his favourite and he was left behind again, passed by Jackson and Chart on the line and then reeled in by first Ben Tinkler (Van Diemen RF80) and Rick Morris in his familiar black Royale. He ended the race in fifth.

Tinkler was a lonely but safe third in his first Classic race for a long while. The erstwhile champion took third within a lap of the restart and stayed there. Morris had more work to do, having slipped down the order as low as seventh before using his considerable experience to master the wet track.

Experience was really needed on the wet-but-not-really-wet surface, coupled with backmarkers from the Historic Formula 3 championship. Stuart Kestenbaum followed Harrison home for sixth in his Van Diemen RF79, in front of a disappointed Joe Ahrens (Van Diemen RF80) who made up a few places to finish seventh.

Chris Porritt, who is taking part in three different series this weekend, was eighth in his Lola, a good 11 seconds ahead of Ross Drybrough, making an appearance in the March 709 used so effectively by Jackson last year.

Ian Jeary’s first outing of the year in his Elden gave him a tenth place. Mark Harrison won the first big midfield scrap in 11th, driving a Royale RP21. Phil Attwood was the winner of the battle at the back, finishing 14th in a Crossle 32F.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image courtesy of Richard Towler

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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)

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FF2000 HSCC

Fennymore fights back

Graham Fennymore has won the Formula Ford 2000 final on the Indy circuit, despite some scares on the way.

Fennymore, driving his Reynard SF81, took advantage of a safety car period early on to get on the back of Ian Pearson’s Royale RP30, then charge past soon after green flag fell again. Pearson, who qualified on pole, had been leading comfortably until Geoff O’nion went off in his Reynard SF77, triggering the yellow flags.

This is not to take anything away from either Fennymore or Pearson.

Fennymore looked set for a win in his heat, leading comfortably until the final lap. On the final lap, he suddenly slowed, taking over a minute to get back to the line and dropping to fourth. This meant that he started eighth for the final.

Pearson had put his car on pole via a win in the first heat, having won his own battle with the SF77 of Adrian Reynard mid-way through. He actually started quite slowly and dropped to third; despite setting a fastest lap and being the first driver to duck under the 49s bar he took a while to challenge for the lead.

Reynard himself was third in the final, having just about kept within sight of Fennymore and Pearson. Andrew Storer was fourth in an SF79, ahead of Jon Finch in a similar car, who had passed him for the heat win late in that race.

Royale driver Molly Dodd was sixth. She was another competitor who had a few obstacles to overcome. After Fennymore’s Heat 2 issue, she looked to have bagged a safe win, but she was penalised 30s for a faulty transponder and was classified fifth. In the final itself, she worked her way up from tenth and was considerably ahead of seventh-placed Ian Foley in an SF78.

Another SF78 was next, driven by Graham Ridgway. He too had problems in the closing laps and did well to recover to eighth from tenth. Ninth place went to Nick Haryett (Reynard SF79), another driver who had a bit of a nightmare in his heat. He qualified third but had problems early on and spent most of the race playing catch-up. Nathaniel Cooper (Royale RP27) followed him home in his heat and did the same in the race itself.

Full results at TSL Timing

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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.

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Classic Formula Ford Features HSCC

Meet Joe Ahrens

Another new face on the Ford-engined grids at Donington was Joe Ahrens, driving an Enigma Motorsport Van Diemen RF80 in Classic Formula Ford. He had a strong debut, earning a seventh and fifth place and showing good overtaking skills in on-track rivalry with PRS driver Paul Britten.

This is rather remarkable considering that the first Classic race was actually his first-ever race in cars. He has competed in international karting and has been around senior motorsport as a driver coach and a mechanic.

Ahrens found it relatively easy to adapt to the Formula Ford.

“Apart from the suspension, it’s not too dissimilar to a go-kart,”, he explained.

“It’s about as close as your can get really, in a car.”

More nerve-wracking than getting used to a new machine was having the car’s owner, 2017 Historic Formula Ford champion Richard Tarling, watching over him.

“It’s a little bit more expensive than a go-kart.”

Ahrens will be in action again at Brands Hatch this weekend and will be hoping to build on his great start. He is planning to race for the rest of the season.

Image courtesy of Richard Towler