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

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

Features Historic Formula Ford

Scott Rawlinson goes Historic

Scott Rawlinson is one of this season’s new recruits for the HSCC Historic Formula Ford championship, having traded contemporary machinery for vintage at the end of 2020.

His first outing in the green Merlyn Mk11A was the Jim Russell Trophy at Snetterton, where he finished the two races in 16th and 15th place, earning his first point.

Rawlinson, born in Merseyside, previously raced in the BRSCC Northern Formula Ford series, but acquired the Merlyn at the end of 2020. It was built by Nigel Grant, familiar in the HSCC paddock as a car preparer and as father to double Historic champion Callum Grant. The car is now run by DB Motorsport.

“It was fairly positive, we had one or two little issues with the car which we managed to sort out in testing,” said Rawlinson of his first time out in the Merlyn.

“I had a great first race, I made a minor error towards the end which I was a bit disappointed with.

“Race 2 was decent because we were able to make up what we lost after Race 1 and come out with a point.

“It challenged me because it’s a new car, a new club, a new championship.”

The meeting was another first for Rawlinson as he had never competed at Snetterton before.

He is upbeat about his chances for the rest of the season.

“It’s been a great weekend, lots of learning, now I’m looking forward to Silverstone.

“It’s all positive.”

(Image copyright Scott Rawlinson)

Features FF2000 HSCC

Molly Dodd makes her debut

There were several newcomers in Formula Ford machinery at Snetterton; Molly Dodd stood out among them.

Although car troubles meant that she did not get to finish either of her races, many observers were impressed by the Spalding teenager’s lap times and confident driving style. This was all the more remarkable as this was the first time she had driven a single-seater competitively.

“It’s the first time driving a single-seater in real life and my first time driving this car,” is how Dodd described it at Snetterton.

It was also her first time in historic machinery, apart from a few practice laps in a friend’s Clubman. All of her racing so far has been in junior categories, mainly the BARC’s Junior Saloon Car Championship, where she competed from 2018 to 2020. Despite her lack of experience with a car like her Royale FF2000, she immediately felt at home.

“I drove front-wheel drive cars before this. My main experience has come from Saxos.

“Whether it’s a case of it matching my style, or…a combination of maybe just experience, a bit of confidence. I feel confident here. Comfortable.”

Single-seaters have always been her ultimate aim, but getting a foot on the established career ladder is difficult.

“The mainstream, certainly junior single-seaters, things like Formula 4 and Formula 3, are quite expensive. This is what we went for in the end, a bit of experience.”

Dodd is a member of MSUK’s Driver Academy and her FF2000 activities are complementing the scheme’s physical training programme.

“The one thing I’ve found particularly is neck, which I’ve not had to do before. When you’re in a tin-top, you’re quite supported. I definitely need to work these muscles. But I was pretty physically prepared.”

Neck strain aside, she was enthusiastic about her experiences on the FF2000 grid.

“It’s a cracking experience really, learning from people around you as you’re on the move.”

FF2000 is back in action at Cadwell for the Wolds Trophy on the 5th and 6th of June.