BRENTWOOD, UK - The first 22 drivers eager to try the new Formula Ford EcoBoost 200 chassis went behind the wheel at Silverstone on Saturday.
Drivers from both sides of the Atlantic sampled the car during a day at the British Grand Prix circuit which Ford Racing motorsport manager Mike Norton described as “probably our most successful ever”.
He added: “It has been fantastic, and we have been overwhelmed with interest. We have had representatives of professional teams - big teams and well-known ones - including several contesting other BTCC package championships, as well as drivers from all corners of the globe. It’s been an absolutely fabulous day.”
Among the first to sample the quickest junior single-seater in the UK was newly crowned McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner Jake Dennis, who was assessing the car on behalf of the Racing Steps Foundation. “I really enjoyed it,” he said. “Obviously it’s very different to the cars I am used to and it took a while to get used to it. Nevertheless, I think the wings are a big improvement and it’s really nice to drive, and great fun.”
Among the drivers looking seriously at the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain is 18-year-old American Collete Davis, who flew from her Florida home especially to test.
“I have a really big interest in Formula Ford for next year,” said Collete, who made her single-seater debut in 2012 in the USF2000 series. “What I am looking for in my career is to advance, and this would be a great series to help me do that. The TV and media package behind it is amazing; the biggest thing I need to work on is helping my US partners transfer to the UK so that I can move my career here.”
For double kart champion Ross Gunn, 16 in January, the sampler day was his first ever taste of a single-seater racing car, and he was bowled over: “The power is unreal and the deceleration is fabulous. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I feel I have proved my point in karts, and it’s time to move on - Formula Ford would be ideal for me.” Gunn shot to stardom in junior motorsport with championship wins in the 2011 Minimax kart series and this year’s Junior Rotax.
The reigning Formula Ford 1600 Champion of Oulton, Neil Winn, said he is “looking very seriously” at stepping up to the new BTCC support series for 2013 and enjoyed his outing. “It’s a very different car to that I am used to,” said the 20-year-old, “and you have to be smooth to get the best from it.”
Radical racer James Abbott, 19, is another poised to join Formula Ford for the coming season: “It’s something that we are looking at seriously and sampling the car today has made me even more keen to take the plunge.”
Experienced Formula Ford racers Luke Williams, Dan Cammish, Fred Martin-Dye and George Blundell took a turn at the wheel also in furtherance of their plans to return to the championship. The other overseas drivers who sampled the new car with enthusiasm were South African Aidan de Nobrega, Argentinian Juan Rossi and Finland’s Atte Lehtonen.
In addition to their test runs, attendees were able to join talks with Ford designers and engineers to go over the new car in detail, gain presentation tips from ITV4 presenter Louise Goodman, and also undertake a fitness test with Prodrive’s driver performance division. The MSA was represented also, BTCC driver Tom Onslow-Cole giving details of its performance master classes for Formula Ford drivers for the coming season.
The Formula Ford EcoBoost 200, which will race for the first time next Easter, will be the quickest junior single-seater in the UK thanks to a remapped engine producing in excess of 200 PS. The chassis is equipped with a fully adjustable aerodynamic package, FIA safety compliant chassis, Formula 3-specification six-speed sequential gearbox and on-board data logging and track mapping.
Formula Ford has signed to support the UK’s premier motorsport package, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, for the next three seasons. The deal includes live TV at each of the 10 events, broadcast on ITV4.
The first 15 drivers to sign up to contest the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain will receive free championship registration and race entries for 2013, as well as free pre-event testing.
The opening rounds of the 30-race championship are scheduled for 30/31 March at Brands Hatch, the birthplace of Formula Ford in 1967.