Antti ups the anti at Rockingham Formula Ford

•Buri completes a hat-trick of EcoBoost wins for JTR•Fabian Welter & Olly Rae secure Duratec honours

The Rockingham circuit is the JTR team’s local track and the squad used home advantage to full effect to help Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain points leader Antti Buri to another two wins to complete a hat-trick of EcoBoost victories for the Finn.

In the ever-competitive Duratec class, there were wins yesterday for Australia’s Olly Rae and the Enigma team and for RVR’s Mexican driver Fabian Welter.

Round 8Buri’s second win of the weekend was as flawless as his first, the Finnish JTR man leading from pole to chequered flag and resisting race-long pressure from a determined Jake Cook, the Rotherham racer determined to make up for his Saturday DNF.

Luke Williams made another rocketship start in his Jamun Mygale to slot into second past team-mate Cook at the lights, but Jake managed to regain the upper hand on lap two. Thereafter Williams faltered, falling into the clutches of Jamun’s third man, Eric Lichtenstein, on lap five.

Cook posted fastest lap of the race on his fourth tour in pursuit of Buri, and the gap never increased much beyond 1.5s, but catching and passing was not on for Jake. “After yesterday second place is a good result. We changed the car’s ECU overnight and it seems to have corrected the problem but something still isn’t right with the car. We’re giving away a lot of speed on the straights so I was having to brake so late to try to catch Anti back up. I knackered my tyres in the middle sector trying to catch him so I was never likely to get past.”

Buri’s fourth win of the season was summed up by the Finn: “My start was great and the tyres came in quickly this time. I knew Jake was closing on me as the race wore on but I knew I had the pace on the straights when I needed it. He was catching me in the twisty bits but I would get away on the straights. That made it quite comfortable.”

Lichtenstein’s third place was the Argentinian driver’s fourth podium finish of the season. “I found it tough at the start to get past Luke and by the time I made it by the leading two were long gone,” he said. “It feels like Antti and JTR are playing with us this weekend because we’re way off their pace and we need to do some work to find out why and catch up.”

Williams put up a spirited defence against attack from Cavan Corcoran to secure fourth, with Fred Martin-Dye following Corcoran home for sixth, ahead of Ryan Cullen’s Cullen Motorsport car and Julio Moreno for JTR.

There was a superb battle for Duratec class honours for the duration. Class points leader Fabian Welter led the way in his Rendez-Vous Racing Mygale for three laps before Saturday Duratec winner Matt Rao found a way ahead.

But Rao’s lead was shortlived: the France-domiciled Brit spun to the back next lap, allowing Olly Rae to take over in front, the Australian Enigma driver having meanwhile overtaken Welter. Fabian fell into the clutches of George Blundell three laps from home and had to settle for third as Enigma man George claimed his best-yet result.

“The race was incredibly close because it’s so competitive in the Duratec class,” said Rae. “The track temperature was quite high too, which meant there was a lot of grip so the car was very physical to drive. It was a question of endurance.”

Round 9Buri continued his hot streak by completing his hat trick at Rockingham, but the Finn never had things his own way. The final outing of the weekend was perhaps Buri’s most testing, but mechanical issues gradually eliminated his challengers and left the JTR driver to make history as the first driver in the EcoBoost era to record three consecutive wins.

Buri again lined up on pole and got a flying start when the lights went out. Behind him the pack bunched tightly as they ran through turn one, with Corcoran getting the jump on Williams, Lichtenstein and Cook. The order was shuffled into Deene Hairpin for the first time, however, as a brave lunge around the outside from Lichtenstein meant he emerged as Buri’s main rival, ahead of Cook and Williams.

The race was disrupted on lap two when Julio Moreno clouted the tyre wall at Deene while fighting over fifth with Fred Martin-Dye. The impact lodged the JTR Mygale into the tyres and a brief safety car period was required while it was extracted.

The caution period eroded Buri’s lead and left him with a problem. “I didn’t push hard enough behind the safety car so my tyres had gone cold on the restart and I was sliding about all over the place,” said Antti. As he slipped out of the final chicane to lead over the line Lichtenstein closed in to pressure the leader. It paid off, too, as Buri ran wide into the Brook Chicane and Lichtenstein grasped the lead.

The move signalled the oddly rare event that a Jamun car headed the field at Rockingham. But it wasn’t to last: Lichtenstein lost momentum out of the Brook Chicane on lap eight and Buri again used the straight-line advantage of the JTR set-up to breeze past and resume the lead into turn one.

Buri’s task of staying ahead was beginning to look tough but problems soon hit his rivals. Williams was the first to drop out, with suspected gearbox problems, from fourth. Then Lichtenstein snapped his throttle pedal out of Brook Chicane on lap nine and crawled to a halt along the pit lane.

The main beneficiary was Cook, but he had to be sharp to avoid the slowing Lichtenstein. “He just suddenly lost power in front of me on to the banking and I was flat on the throttle,” said Cook. “I had to swerve pretty hard to avoid running into the back of him.” The evasive action also aided Buri, who crossed the line with a 2.6s advantage.

“It’s been a perfect weekend in terms of the championship and way beyond our expectations,” said Buri, who now holds a comfortable points cushion. “Things were tough with Eric because he pushed me hard so I was quite glad to see him drop away from my mirrors. It certainly took the pressure off and from then on I could relax and enjoy the drive. The team gave me a superb car and we’re starting to show our potential.”

Cook took second and the high attrition rate handed Corcoran the final podium place ahead of Martin-Dye and Cullen. “Two second places are great for the championship but I’m concerned at the gap JTR had on us this weekend,” said Cook. “I pushed as hard as I could but Antti was just too far gone.”

The Duratec class provided one of the highlights of the season, with Welter fighting back from the rear of the pack to steal a last-gasp victory. Welter got a terrible start to his race when he spun out of the four-car fight for the lead at Chapman Curve. “I thought that was it when I lost the back end,” he said. “I was almost a lap down when I got going.”

Welter’s fight-back was aided by the safety car. He managed to recover to latch on to the rear of the train and made quick progress following the restart. Rao and Rae contested the lead of the class for much of the race but Rae misjudged his restart and passed Rao before the start-finish line when racing resumed. That earned him a drive-through penalty and ruined his chances of repeating his earlier class success.

Rao was then a casualty of mechanical gremlins and pulled into the pits shortly after. That handed Welter the chance he needed and he swept into the lead again ahead of Alex Drabble with a lap to spare. “It’s amazing to think that a handful of laps ago I was stone last so to win is very special,” he said. “I kept seeing warning flags for the guys ahead of me so I thought I maybe had a chance for the podium but I just kept going and the race came to me.”

Provisional results

Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great BritainRound 8 (of 24), Rockingham 10/6/1213 laps / 26.67 miles

Overall & EcoBoost1  Antti BURI / FIN  JTR Mygale  18m 47.345s / 85.17mph2  Jake COOK / GBR  Jamun Mygale  +1.377s3  Eric LICHTENSTEIN / GBR  Jamun Mygale  +3.330s4  Luke WILLIAMS / GBR  Jamun Mygale  +12.931s5  Cavan CORCORAN / GBR  JTR Mygale  +13.334s6  Fred MARTIN-DYE / GBR  Enigma Mygale  +18.538sDuratec class1  Olly RAE / AUS  Enigma Mygale  +55.884s2  George BLUNDELL / GBR  Enigma Mygale  +1m 02.836s3  Fabian WELTER / MEX  RVR Mygale  +1m 16.367s4  Matt RAO / GBR  Fluid Van Diemen  +1m 23.219s5  Alex DRABBLE / GBR  Fluid Van Diemen  12 lapsFastest lap Cook 1m 25.624s / 86.26mph

Round 911 laps / 22.57 miles

Overall & EcoBoost1  BURI  18m 14.157s / 74.25mph2  COOK  +2.671s3  CORCORAN  +3.911s4  MARTIN-DYE  +4.661s5  Ryan CULLEN / GBR  Cullen Mygale  +5.143sDuratec class1  WELTER  +28.257s2  DRABBLE  +28.974s3  RAE  +31.947s4  BLUNDELL  +38.970sFastest lap Cook 1m 26.257s / 85.63mph

Full results

Provisional championship standingsOverall 1 Buri 259 points; 2 Cook 189; 3 Martin-Dye 176; 4 Corcoran 160; 5 Williams 148; 6 Julio Moreno 144 etcDuratec 1 Welter 252; 2 Rae 191; 3 Blundell 182; 4 Rao 154; 5 Drabble 131 etc

Next rounds 23/24 June, Brands Hatch

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