MSA Formula test programme races ahead

TRS Arden and Team Pyro join the Carlin, Fortec and JTR squads with vital early pre-season testing lapsOllie Pidgley confirms his championship registration as he and Ricky Collard enjoy their first MSA Formula laps

At least five of the teams contesting this season's inaugural MSA Formula championship have begun their pre-season testing programmes, with Team Pyro and the TRS Arden squad the latest to shake down their Ford EcoBoost-powered chassis.

The Carlin, Fortec and JTR teams were the first out of the box, making good use of relatively good weather conditions at Rockingham to give their drivers an initial taste of the FIA-certified Formula 4 chassis built by Mygale. The Silverstone circuit then played host on Friday (6 Feb) to Pyro and Arden.

Seventeen-year-old Ollie Pidgley was one of the first drivers to put his name down for a car at the September launch event, and last week became the latest to confirm his registration for MSA Formula. Two days later the Hampshireman ended his long wait to get behind the wheel, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience: "The car was finished at 3am Friday and was at Silverstone by 9am for its shakedown. Of course there were some teething issues, but nothing more serious than a minor misfire. Really the test was about making sure that I was comfortable in the car, and we covered around 40 laps in total."

This will be Ollie's first season of single-seater racing: he cut his teeth in cadet karting and raced last year in club saloons. His familiarisation programme started late last year with some tests in an old Formula Renault chassis. He was impressed by many of the features of the MSA Formula car: "First impressions are really good. The paddle shift is great and a real step in the right direction, and I have been making good use of the data download system and on-board camera. I was pleased to find a lot more room in the cockpit than in the Formula Renault; it's user-friendly from a driver's point of view, and it all looks well designed and built." Pidgley's next scheduled outing is likely to be mid-month at his home circuit of Thruxton.

Eighteen-year-old Collard, who was Formula Ford Scholarship class runner-up in his maiden season of car racing, was enthusiastic about his first outing with TRS Arden: "It was a great first test, and a real credit to the team that there were no major problems with the car straight from the box. We managed four 20-lap runs, and everything went as well as it could have.

"It's a fantastic car and I really enjoyed driving it; it had the same general feel as the Formula Ford that I am used to, but it's bigger in the cockpit and for a driver that's really nice. We've taken some useful data to look at and, once we have done that, we will fix a date for a further test, possibly at Thruxton."

The Carlin squad and its drivers Colton Herta, Lando Norris and Petru Florescu will be back on the testing trail in the coming days, getting to grips with the Knockhill circuit in Scotland.

MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by Ford EcoBoost is Britain’s official version of the FIA’s Formula 4 concept and will be the British Touring Car Championship’s single-seater support series, enjoying live TV coverage and bumper raceday spectator attendance. The championship will be decided over 30 races; three at each of the 10 BTCC meetings to be held between April and October.

The winning driver will hold the title FIA Formula 4 Champion of Great Britain, and will earn 10 Grand Prix Superlicence points to get his or her career off to a flying start, in addition to being awarded a career-enhancing test drive with a leading FIA Formula 3 team.

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