* Jake Cook on top in Round 2, his Jamun team-mate the Round 3 victor * Fabian Welter and Kenneth Thirlwall share the Duratec class honours
Three races, three different first-time victors and a tie for the top of the championship. The Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain got away to a stormingly competitive start at Oulton Park over Easter with the successful introduction of the new EcoBoost chassis and some close and exciting racing to boot.
Today Jamun drivers Jake Cook and Luke Williams joined Saturday's round one victor Antti Buri in the EcoBoost winners' circle, and there was a Duratec class win apiece for Fabian Welter and Kenneth Thirlwall.
Sam Roach of championship promoter RacingLine said he was delighted by a successful first weekend of racing for the EcoBoost Formula Fords: "We have seen no significant technical problems, which is always a good thing when a new chassis is introduced, we have had some great racing, with three different winners, and the prospects for the rest of the season are bright. We hope to see further new EcoBoost cars on the grid at Brands Hatch later this month, and I am sure that will only add to the competitiveness."
Round 2Conditions could not have been much wetter for the first of the day's races and, not surprisingly perhaps, nearly half the field - including some fancied EcoBoost runners - fell foul of the weather.
Eric Lichtenstein was the first to realise the lap of grip, the lanky Argentinian running off the track on the exit of turn one, Old Hall Corner, moments after the fast-starting Jamun Racing pilot had seized the lead from the surprised pole man Buri. "I made a good start, then I locked up and went off." said a phlegmatic Eric.
Buri's hopes of a repeat of his dominant dry-weather display of Saturday were dashed by the weather. "It was due to a lack of testing in the wet," said the Finn, "and I just did not have the pace." Buri led the opening lap as far as Lodge before running wide and allowing Jamun's Jake Cook in front.
Rotherham-based Cook quickly built a useful lead once he hit the front, but saw his hard work undone by the arrival on track of the safety car, which had been called in after the Duratec cars of Olly Rae and Abdul Ahmed ran off the road. Jake need not have worried, however: when the safety car was recalled he nailed the restart and was soon extending his advantage over Buri once again.
Cook crossed the line almost 10s clear to record his maiden Formula Ford win, and the first of the season for the Jamun team: "I enjoyed the race," he said, "although I got a terrible start. We were lucky that it was wet here in our test in the week, and I went quite well then. It also helped that some others went wide."
Buri clung to second in the JTR Mygale EcoBoost, but had few worries once the Jamun cars of Lichtenstein and Luke Williams went off. Lichtenstein, who had dropped to eighth on the opening lap, spun again on lap two and then decisively at Druids on the sixth lap. Williams had dropped even further back on lap one but was up to third after the restart before he also finally left the track, fortunately causing only minor damage, on lap six.
Not putting a wheel wrong in the conditions was key, as Surrey racer Fred Martin-Dye discovered in his Enigma Motorsport Mygale. He made an excellent start to what was only his second car race and slotted into a safe third after the restart, which he held to the end to record his first podium finish. Ryan Cullen (Cullen/RCC) and Julio Moreno (JTR) completed the EcoBoost finishers, with Cavan Corcoran covering a single lap before an electronics issue halted him.
The Duratec class battle was as engaging as ever, with George Blundell (Enigma) holding the lead until he ran wide three laps from home and gifted the position to round one Duratec class victor Fabian Welter. The Mexican was pleased and surprised to score his second class win for Rendez-Vous Racing: "It was a very good race for me and I am very happy. I couldn't really see anything, so I just kept pushing and I was lucky that so many people went off." Welter placed fourth overall, ahead of two of the EcoBoost runners.
Kenneth Thirlwall was the second Duratec finisher, the Myerscough College driver heading home the recovered Blundell, who in turn was well clear of Fluid Van Diemen man Alex Drabble, who scored his first points. The Duratecs of Matt Rao and Charles Anti joined Ahmed and Rae in retirement.
Round 3A sticking throttle which led to a clutch problem was what prevented another Buri victory in round three. The Finn again started from pole position and made a good fist of building an early advantage over the pursuing Jamun trio of Cook, Williams and Lichtenstein.
By the sixth lap Antti was more than three seconds clear, but then disaster struck: "The throttle was sticking from quite early on but I was managing it until the clutch started to give out as well." Buri ran wide at Hislop's chicane and lost ground, handing the lead not to Cook, but to Williams, Jake having himself slithered up the Hislop's escape road and back to third on the previous lap.
Thus Luke found himself out in front by a six-second margin and with four laps to go to the chequered flag. The Sowerby star did not disappoint, building his advantage over Cook to 7.8s by the end. "It all came together for me in race three," he said. "All three of us were pretty much on the same pace, but the others had moments and I was there to take advantage."
Buri's car gave up the ghost yards after the finish line and the Finn was relieved with third: "I am very lucky," said Antti, "because the car waited until after the finish to break." With Cook taking second, Jake and Antti leave Oulton Park with a win, a second and a third apiece and the joint lead of the championship. "I made too cautious a start to that race," said Jake, "but all in all it's not been a bad weekend."
Lichtenstein ran fourth for the duration of the race, with Martin-Dye fifth for much of it until Corcoran nipped past him two laps from home. Moreno placed seventh and Cullen was the final EcoBoost finisher.
Welter looked hopeful of a third straight Duratec win until a fourth-lap spin saw the Mexican drop to fourth in class behind Rao, Thirlwall and Blundell. Rao and Thirlwall staged a superb battle for class honours for the second half of the race, the Myerscough College racer eventually overcoming his rival on the last lap. "I had been sizing him up for several laps," said Kenneth, "and managed to pull it off just in time."
Blundell held off Welter and Rae for the final step of the Duratec podium.
Provisional resultsDunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain Round 2 (of 24), Oulton Park 9/4/129 laps / 24.23 milesEcoBoost1 Jake COOK / GBR Jamun Mygale 19m 35. 319s / 74.21mph2 Antti BURI / FIN JTR Mygale +9.870s3 Fred MARTIN-DYE / GBR Enigma Mygale +22.034s4 Ryan CULLEN / GBR Cullen/RCC Enigma +50.194s5 Julio MORENO / ECU JTR Mygale +51.166s Duratec class1 Fabian WELTER / MEX RVR Mygale +47.548s2 Kenneth THIRLWALL / GBR Myerscough Van Diemen +53.448s3 George BLUNDELL / GBR Enigma Mygale +59.222s4 Alex DRABBLE / GBR Fluid Van Diemen +1m 20.881s Fastest lap Cook 1m 57.298s / 82.62mph
Round 3, 10 laps / 26.92 milesEcoBoost1 Luke WILLIAMS / GBR Jamun Mygale 19m 00.286s / 84.99mph2 COOK +7.875s3 BURI +13.861s4 Eric LICHTENSTEIN / ARG Jamun Mygale +15.399s5 Cavan CORCORAN / GBR JTR Mygale +30.664s6 MARTIN-DYE +43.734s etcDuratec class1 THIRLWALL +1m 19.917s2 Matt RAO / GBR Fluid Van Diemen +1m 22.267s3 BLUNDELL +1m 28.124s4 WELTER +1m 28.567s5 Olly RAE / AUS Enigma Mygale +1m 33.340s Fastest lap Williams 1m 52.051s / 86.49mph
TV 15 April Motors TV 2100
Provisional championship standingsEcoBoost =1 Buri & Cook 82 points; 3 Martin-Dye 58; 4 Moreno 56; 5 Williams 53; 6 Cullen 50 etc.Duratec 1 Welter 84; 2 Thirlwall 84; 3 Blundell 49; 4 Rae 44; 5 Rao 27; 6 Drabble 22.Rookie 1 Martin-Dye 89; 2 Moreno 82; 3 Cullen 75 etc.
Next rounds 18-20 May Brands Hatch