Less than half a second covers top four in official testing
Despite never having laid eyes on Croft – let alone driven a lap of the North Yorkshire circuit – Ashley Sutton claimed fastest time in both of Friday’s official test sessions ahead of the weekend’s rounds of the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain. The Hertfordshire 20-year-old was the only driver to break the 1m 19s barrier and was also the only one under last year’s pole position time.
Ashley, whose Jamun Racing EcoBoost Mygale was four-tenths of a second faster around the 2.1-mile track than his closest rival could achieve, was delighted: “My first-ever lap here was this morning, so I’m really chuffed. We were pleased with this morning’s time – we sat down to look at the data and maybe 90 per cent of the lap was right and we knew there was more time there: I just needed the car underneath me to do it, and the Jamun guys did a perfect job to get it just right for me.
“My car was quick in the dry at Oulton Park last time, and we have not changed a thing. It’s just that everything has clicked – I like the track and the car suits it perfectly. I just hope it stays dry.”
Argentina’s Juan Rosso, South Africa’s Jayde Kruger and Briton Harrison Scott were second, third and fourth fastest today, with just over a hundredth of a second separating the trio. Rosso spent the morning session on old tyres while he reacquainted himself with the Croft layout and found a full second in the afternoon on fresh Dunlops.
Rosso’s Radical Motorsport team-mate James Abbott was fifth fastest, just ahead of Ricky Collard, the second fastest Scholarship Class runner after Sutton. There were tech issues for Scholarship points leader Connor Mills, who completed a limited number of laps in the morning in his Meridian Mygale and who, although on track for longer in the afternoon, could not better his am lap time.
Mills’s new team-mate, 16-year-old Jai Nijjar, will not after all make his debut this weekend at Croft: teething problems with his new chassis last week gave the race-car rookie too little time to prepare for his first outings. He plans to make his Formula Ford debut at Snetterton next month instead.
Also missing from the action this weekend is Thruxton double winner Sam Brabham, who is having to sit out the Croft races due to a shortfall in his budget. He is seeking further funds to enable him to complete the Formula Ford season. “It’s been challenging and our luck just hasn’t played to running on restricted finances,” said Sam. “I’m not in the championship hunt anymore, so I need to look at the bigger picture. We’re talking to a few interested parties and I hope we can either work up some new deals or find some new backers. We’re certainly not giving up and if anything this just makes me stronger and even more determined.”
Qualifying is scheduled for 1025 today at Croft, ahead of two races in the afternoon. Sunday’s finale is to be screened live on ITV4.