Simms wins as Formula Ford 2000 (almost) goes the distance

The second Formula Ford 2000 race of the day went to Benn Simms, in a less disrupted race that almost went full-distance.

Simms got a great start in his yellow Reynard SF77 and had powered away from the rest of the field before the first lap was over. Even backmarkers could not stop his progress.

This left the main rivalry to be played out between Andrew Park and Graham Fennymore. Park, in his Reynard SF81, got the better start, partly due to Fennymore’s SF81 having a new clutch that bit a little too hard. However, Fennymore quickly caught Park and got himself ahead during the second lap. Backmarkers played a part in their race; Park was able to close up and get right on Fennymore’s tail when they were held up, but the tight circuit and the presence of the backmarkers themselves gave him no room to make a move. He came close on several occasions but Fennymore held out for second.

Ian Pearson, the first Royale driver home, had a much better race than yesterday in his RP30. He only took a few laps to overhaul Drew Cameron’s RP27, with Cameron admitting later that Pearson was simply the better driver on the day. Had the race not been stopped just before its 15 minutes were up, Pearson would have drawn level with Park and Fennymore.

Cameron weathered a challenge from Lee Bankhurst in his RP30, making good use of backmarkers to defend his position. Bankhurst was sixth, having passed Adrian Reynard’s SF79 mid-way through.

Reynard was still blowing off the cobwebs after a winter break and also getting used to a new car preparer in Simon Hadfield. He was eighth, behind the RP27 of Peter Drennan. Drennan had badgered Reynard earlier in the race and passed him during lap five.

Nathaniel Cooper got ahead of Andrew Storer this time for ninth place. The Royale RP27 driver picked off a struggling Storer at about half distance, after Storer’s SF79 was left behind by Drennan. Storer was tenth.

Ollie Roberts might have got into the top ten with another lap, but it wasn’t to be. Having helped Brian Soule repair his Reynard SF79 and started from the back, he charged up the order, enjoying scraps with Anthony Thompson’s Reynard and Molly Dodd’s Royale on the way.

The race finished at fourteen minutes due to Gary Fletcher’s Delta T79 becoming stuck in the gravel at Paddock Hill.


Simms sticks it out for the win

Benn Simms has won the first Historic Formula Ford 2000 race of the year, holding his lead over three sessions and two days.

The final restart was a five-lap sprint and Simms managed to pull out a small lead early on, keeping his Reynard SF77 ahead of a charging Andrew Park in his SF81. Park set the fastest lap of the race and broke the lap record, but Simms got on to it just that bit quicker and held him at bay.

Graham Fennymore was third, safely behind Park in his sister SF81, then Drew Cameron (Royale RP27) some eight seconds further back and Lee Bankhurst’s RP30 in fifth, having challenged Cameron a little midway through.

It could have all been very different, although the winner was never strongly in doubt. Park and Fennymore were very close in the early stages and exchanged positions several times, with Fennymore in the ascendent when the first red flag came out. Ian Foley’s SF78 collided with the Delta of Jason Redding at the bottom of Paddock Hill and had to be cleared.

Cameron was in the mix for the first restart and briefly ran in third, but Park soon retook and anyway, the red flag came out again after only a couple of laps. John Moore’s Delta was now stranded in the Paddock Hill gravel and there was no time for another restart due to the curfew and fading light, and another red flag during the Roadsports race.

Cameron held his lead over Bankhurst during the final part. Bankhurst, who had been very quick in qualifying, had been struggling with a broken upright since yesterday and was not as fast as he would have liked.

Ian Pearson was sixth, having spent much of yesterday working on his father Robert’s crashed RP30. He made up two places in the final stint, putting his RP30 ahead of first a struggling Andrew Storer (SF79) then Adrian Reynard’s SF79. Peter Drennan (Royale RP27) also overtook Storer late on, finishing some way ahead of him in eighth, with Reynard seventh. Nathaniel Cooper, also in an RP27, was tenth, almost ten seconds back, chased by yet another RP27 driven by Molly Dodd. A similarly close tussle between the SF79s of Bernie Braden and Anthony Thompson decided twelfth and thirteenth places.

The only Class B runner was Neil Bowman, driving a Van Diemen RF78, who finished 23rd. Ollie Roberts was unable to start in his SF79.

Full results at TSL Timing

FF2000 HSCC News

To be continued…

Today’s first round of the HSCC Historic Formula Ford 2000 championship is yet to be decided.

Two red flags meant that the remainder of the race was postponed until tomorrow morning. The original plan was for the five-minute sprint to run at the end of the day, but a further stoppage after a crash during the ’70s Roadsports race meant that there was no time and fading light.

Benn Simms was leading in his Reynard SF77 from the SF81s of Andrew Park and Graham Fennymore, but a full restart will wipe out any advantage he had built up. Drew Cameron (Royale RP27) will also be hoping to make up another place or two and push one of the champions off the podium.

A full report will follow tomorrow.


Simms sets the pace

Benn Simms has placed his Reynard SF77 on pole for Saturday’s opening Formula Ford 2000 round with a ferocious time of 48.628s.

To put this into context, his time would have been enough to qualify sixth for the Formula Atlantic race, against much more powerful cars.

Simms set his time in the second of two qualifying sessions and to begin with, it looked as if Graham Fennymore would be on pole. The 2021 champion has made some improvements to his Reynard SF81 and was the quickest of the first group by about half a second from Lee Bankhurst’s Royale RP30.

Simms says that he has done very little to his car and he was even having trouble with his clutch. He credited his performance to a combination of the slightly warm track and cold ambient air benefiting his car’s engine.

Four-time champion Andrew Park will slot in behind the two session leaders. Park had barely sat in his SF81 since it broke down at Oulton Park last year, other than to deal with its misfire. Bankhurst will start alongside.

Drew Cameron’s Royale RP27 was only a fraction of a second behind Bankhurst and he will start from fifth. Ian Pearson will start next, having finished third in his session in his RP30, in front of Jason Redding, who was pleased to put his new Delta in seventh spot. 2020 champion Peter Drennan put his RP27 in eighth.

Andrew Storer’s new SF79 will give him a ninth place start, followed by Ian Foley in a Reynard SF78.

Ollie Roberts will start from eleventh on his FF2000 debut, driving another SF79, while 2021 Class B champion Fraser Collins will be 17th in his new RP30. Molly Dodd, in another RP27, was hampered in qualifying and will be looking to improve on 16th.

Brian Morris and Paul Allen are among a small number of dropouts this weekend, Morris due to needing to travel for work and Allen due to serious problems with his ex-Callum Grant Delta. This means that the qualification races each day have been cancelled.

Full results at TSL Timing

Features FF2000 HSCC

Champions assemble

The HSCC Historic Formula Ford 2000 championship gets going this weekend at Brands Hatch, with four champions in action.

The series is starting how it means to go on, with big grids and fierce competition at the front. Reigning champion Graham Fennymore will be out in his rapid Reynard SF81, with his predecessor Peter Drennan hoping that his Royale RP27 is as quick as the Reynard SF79 that took him to the 2020 crown.

Four-time series winner Andrew Park only did a part-season last year. Although he won once at Cadwell and usually had the pace, his SF81 misbehaved at least once. Having had time to work on the car, he should be back in the mix.

The final champion out to play is Mr 2014, Benn Simms, who was the early leader in 2021. His SF77 was normally the closest car to Fennymore’s whenever the two were on track together.

The 33-car field expected at the Indy circuit will be split into two groups for qualifying, with heats and a championship race each day. This format is an unforgiving one; any serious mistakes made during qualifying may have to be rectified on-track not just once, but twice over.

Of course, other drivers will be looking to muscle in at the front. Molly Dodd (Royale RP27) starred in a qualification race at Donington, only to lose places due to a faulty transponder. This format has worked for her before and she comes into 2022 a much more experienced driver.

Ian Pearson was third last year, with one win at a very slippery Mallory. His Royale RP30 was normally snapping at the heels of the leader and he should never be counted out.

Andrew Storer missed a lot of 2021 but did reach the podium last year at Brands, driving his famous Pukka Pies SF79. He cannot be disregarded either, especially with Stephen Glasswell (SF79) and Graham Ridgway’s SF78 not being present.

Each season brings a few new driver and car combinations and 2022 is no different. Ollie Roberts is hoping to be competitive from the off in his new SF79, despite not having raced for a while. 2021 Class B champion Fraser Collins will also be debuting a new car, a Class A Royale RP30.

The weather will also be a factor this weekend, with changeable conditions perhaps favouring the more experienced competitors.

(Image courtesy of Richard Towler)

Classic Formula Ford Formula Ford Festival Historic Formula Ford

Historics go to the Formula Ford Festival

(Pictured: Chris Knox’s Van Diemen RF79)

The Brian Jones Trophy was the event’s Historic Final, although the cut-off point was 1998 rather than 1982 and genuine historic cars were outnumbered and somewhat outgunned.

Former BTCC and truck racer Matt Rivett was the winner in a 1991 Van Diemen, having pulled onto the tail of Darwin Smith’s 1990 version during a safety car period. Rivett had started fourth and spent the early part of the race putting himself into a favourable position to pick off Smith. He need not have bothered, however, as Smith went off on the final lap. Brandon McCaughan was second in a Mondiale M89S, with Chris Goodwin making the most of the final five-lap sprint to put his Van Diemen RF89 in third.

First place was something of a curse on the wet Brands asphalt, as early leader Alan Davidson suffered a series of problems with his 1989 Mondiale and dropped to tenth.

Returning star, the Van Diemen RF80-mounted Roberto Moreno, only lasted a single corner before spinning off into the gravel, triggering a safety car period.

The “proper” historic action was further down the grid, with Robert Higgins’s Macon MR7 the quickest pre-’72 car in 13th place. Higgins, competing alongside sons Richard and Adam, made up several places in the closing stages of the race and finished just ahead of Chris Knox, having his first single-seater race in a Van Diemen RF79. Former Mini racer Knox was perhaps the most impressive of the Historic entries, running as high as eighth for a good portion of the race.

The debut appearance of Shaun Hollamby’s Jamun T3 was also a positive one. Hollamby had been waiting for it to be ready all season and managed to climb to 15th place from the back of a 30-car grid.

Rick Morris usually runs well at the Festival but his Royale RP29 had an argument with the barriers in his semi-final and he dropped a lot of places on the final lap of the historic final, finishing 20th. Stuart Kestenbaum, racing Mark Harrison’s Royale RP21 for the first time, was 23rd.

None of the pre-’82 runners made it in to the Grand Final, won by Jamie Sharp, although Historic regular Samuel Harrison was 14th in a Ray GR07. Knox qualified for the first semi but could only finish 26th, and Morris crashed out of the second.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image copyright Linton Stutely


Fennymore wins as Simms fights from the back

Graham Fennymore has secured his second Historic Formula Ford 2000 win of the weekend, leading comfortably from pole position.

Fennymore’s Reynard SF81 was consistently fast and he made the most of his leading position to pick up another easy-looking win, in a race that was far less eventful than the first.

Andrew Park was second in his SF81, having dealt with some timing gremlins over the lunch break. He was not able to keep on the back of Fennymore but was easily quicker than the group that followed him for most of the race, consisting of the Royales of Drew Cameron and Molly Dodd and Ian Foley in a Reynard SF78. Cameron prevailed out of the three, holding on for third, and Dodd repeatedly attacked, braking very late. By the end, their party was broken up by the arrival of Benn Simms’s yellow SF77.

Simms, a non-finisher in Race 1, came through from the back to finish third. Initially it was relatively simple and he made up 12 places on his opening lap. His biggest obstacle was Dodd, who refused to concede at Old Hall Bend and continued to defend effectively for several corners. Simms’s experience showed and he passed Cameron fairly quickly after dispatching Dodd. Cameron was fourth and Dodd fifth.

Simms brought Lee Bankhurst with him from the back. The Royale RP30 driver had also dropped out of the first race. He followed Simms through until the final lap, when he was unable to get past Dodd or Cameron to continue his mission.

Foley held on for seventh, ahead of Class B winner Fraser Collins in his Lola T580. Davy Walton (Reynard SF79) was ninth and the Delta T78 of Roger Price completed the top ten.

Despite eight cars failing to finish, there were no stoppages and most of the casualties pulled into the pits under their own steam.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image by Richard Towler

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

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

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