* 22 races in, title contenders Jayde Kruger and Harrison Scott level-peg in the championship standings* Kruger leads from pole to flag ahead of Scholarship winner Sutton
A resounding Rockingham race victory for Jayde Kruger this afternoon brings the South African racer and his Essex-based title rival Harrison Scott level on points with just eight races remaining over which to decide who will be crowned the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Champion for 2014.
Kruger led Round 22 of the championship from pole position to chequered flag under race-long pressure from Ashley Sutton, with Scott a lonely third. It was Kruger’s ninth win of the season for JTR, and the 26-year-old’s third on the trot, coming hot on the heels of his Knockhill double.
Jayde beat off a first-turn challenge from MBM Motorsport driver Sutton and successfully fended off Ashley for the remainder of the opening lap. Jayde was dealt a lucky break at the final turn, the Brooke chicane, where Sutton was unsettled by a hefty bump from behind from the pursuing Ricky Collard.
“It felt like it was my rear wheel that he hit,” said Sutton, “and I had to take it steady for the next lap because I wasn’t sure if I’d picked up a puncture – after Knockhill the last thing I wanted was another accident – and that gave Jayde a bit of a break. Once I realised the car was all right I knuckled down to it, but Jayde did a brilliant job and our lap times were matching the whole race.” Sutton was a clear winner in the Scholarship rookie class, his ninth such victory of the season; he collected a £500 prize for his effort.
Kruger crossed the line a second ahead and was elated with his win. “I knew if I could lead lap one that I could have a safe race from there,” said Jayde. “It was really only the opening lap that I was nervous about; not having an accident and keeping the wheels on it – I couldn’t afford a DNF.”
Falcon Motorsport driver Collard’s collision with the rear of Sutton’s EcoBoost Mygale cost him some pace. “It got a bit close,” said Ricky. “We all got bunched up into the chicane and Sutton slowed suddenly and I had nowhere to go… It broke my front wing and affected my car’s handling massively.”
Collard’s problems benefited his team-mate Scott, who held fourth behind Ricky for the opening three laps before slotting in front of him at the Deene hairpin. From there Harrison had a solitary drive to the podium’s bottom step. “That’s probably the best result I could have hoped for with the way my car is,” said Scott. “It was a big struggle out there.”
JTR’s Max Marshall relieved Collard of fourth place at Deene mid-race, and Ricky fell back into a multi-car battle for fifth which came to a head at the hairpin on the final lap, contact between the combatants ending the races of Michael O’Brien (MBM) and championship newcomer Clay Mitchell (JTR). Louise Richardson (Richardson Racing) steered her way through the debris to take sixth place behind Collard.
James Abbott (Radical) got the better of a long battle with Chris Mealin (Falcon) to deprive the Manxman of seventh on the final lap. Greg Holloway (SWB Sinter) placed ninth, with Juan Rosso (Radical) the final finisher after a pit stop.
The reverse-grid Round 23 is due off at 1020 tomorrow at Rockingham – Collard will start from the pole – with Round 24 scheduled for a 1550 start, live on ITV4.
QualifyingJayde Kruger underlined his and the JTR team’s recaptured form to claim two pole positions in qualifying. The South African posted a best lap time of 1m 17.771s, eight-hundredths of a second better than his nearest rival, Ashley Sutton, to claim the pole for Round 22. In terms of second-best times, which decide the grid for tomorrow’s live-televised 24th round, Jayde was 0.050s quicker than Ashley.
“That’s not bad,” said a beaming Kruger. “I guess there’s always room for improvement and a racing driver always feels he could have gone quicker, but two poles is good and it’s a step in the right direction in our goal of getting in front of Harrison in the points as we get towards the business end of the championship.”
Scott was disappointed with his fourth-best overall time behind Kruger, Sutton and his own Falcon team-mate, Ricky Collard. “We are trying everything to go faster but we just can’t,” said Harrison. “It’s frustrating that everyone else seems to be going quicker and we are staying the same.”
Sutton, still acclimatising himself to his third different Mygale chassis in a fortnight, said: “We spent yesterday dialling the car in, made some improvement to it and today it feels good. I made a slight mistake on my best lap, and Jayde got the job done. But we know we have consistency, so I’m feeling confident for the races.”
Collard was delighted with his best qualifying result of the season: “We’ve a lot of ground to make up to the JTR and MBM cars but I’m really happy with my best qualifying result and I love this track.”
Less than a second covered the qualifying top six, with JTR’s Max Marshall qualifying fifth, just ahead of MBM’s Michael O’Brien, impressing on his first visit to Rockingham. Louise Richardson was seventh, pleased with her result after an overnight switch of chassis to a newer Richardson Racing Mygale powered by a Mountune-prepared EcoBoost engine. James Abbott emerged eighth, ahead of his Radical Motorsport team-mate Juan Rosso, the Argentine driver complaining of understeer and a lack of power. Chris Mealin (Falcon) completed the top 10, his Mygale much improved after a fix to the mechanical issues it suffered in Friday testing. SWB Sinter driver Greg Holloway was 11th fastest, with championship newcomer Clay Mitchell 12th; the Glaswegian completed only three laps after a nosecone-damaging off at the Brook chicane.