Norris back on top after Ford-powered win number six

  • Lando Norris leads from pole to chequered flag for Carlin to regain championship lead
  • Dan Ticktum second overall and Rookie class victor with Colton Herta P3
  • Back-of-grid battle to eighth for Ricky Collard

ROCKINGHAM 5 SEPTEMBER, 2015 – The overall lead of the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship changed hands yet again this afternoon, Lando Norris regaining control of the title race after a well-judged victory in Round 22, the Carlin driver leading all the way from pole position to chequered flag.

Erstwhile points leader Ricky Collard made the best of a difficult situation, racing from the very back of the 20-car grid after an accident in qualifying to claim eighth place at the line, and with it a front-row start for tomorrow’s reverse-grid race.

Fifteen-year-old flyer Norris did well to hang on to the lead in the first couple of corners with his team-mate Colton Herta getting a better getaway from P2 on the grid. They drew level through the banked first turn, with Lando managing to nose in front thanks to hugging the inside line into the Deene hairpin. Fortec’s Dan Ticktum managed to impose himself between the duelling Carlin men as they scrabbled their way through Deene, pushing Herta back to third.

Behind, there was a degree of chaos as the pack tried to funnel through the tight right-hander Yentwood, several cars getting tagged. Toby Sowery, in his first race with the MBM team, found himself beached in the gravel while Louise Richardson’s Richardson Racing machine was spun right around – fortunately she was able to get going again, albeit with time lost. Another casualty was Jack Butel (JHR Developments), who retired to the pits with deranged steering. Sowery’s car required retrieval and this prompted a three-lap safety car period.

At the restart Norris held his nerve to maintain the lead and at the end of the fifth lap he led Ticktum by just over a second, with Herta close behind for third. A series of fastest laps from Lando put his victory beyond doubt, and he crossed the line 1.8s clear for his sixth Ford-powered victory of the season. Said Lando: “Colton got a better start than me and was almost completely past me but I had the inside for the hairpin and I managed to get the lead again. After that the car felt really good and quite fast and I was able to manage the race.”

Norris’s getaway was aided by Ticktum’s need to protect his second place from a series of moves by Herta. Colton tried his hardest to outgun Dan into the Deene on several occasions, and Ticktum’s defensive action cost him time to the leader. Herta came under attack himself towards the end from TRS Arden man Enaam Ahmed, who went wheel to wheel with the American into Tarzan on the penultimate lap and was repulsed only by some vigorous defending.

Said Colton: “My initial start was good but things kind of evened out once we got on the banking. I didn’t see Dan with us until the last second, so it was all quite close into the hairpin. Then I had a close race with Enaam – we touched a bit but it was all clean racing.”

Less than five seconds covered the top six at the line – Norris, Ticktum, Herta and Ahmed heading home Matheus Leist’s Double R car and Sennan Fielding’s JHR Developments machine. Ticktum was the Rookie class victor for the 12th time this season with Ahmed second and Carlin’s Petru Florescu, seventh overall, competing the Rookie podium.

Ahmed, who last weekend claimed his maiden car-racing wins in Estonia in the SMP Formula 4 Championship, was pleased with his result but “really disappointed that I couldn’t make my move on Colton stick; I had to try, we were rubbing wheels and it was a good battle. I’m happy with another top five, though…”

Dan Baybutt held on to cross the line eighth for JTR, with Collard – who was being advised from the pit wall where he needed to finish to secure a good starting position for the reverse-grid race – right behind. Said Ricky: “I made sure that my pit board was telling me where I needed to be. My tyres look good, I feel good and I’ve practised my overtaking moves… Now I just have to go and win it tomorrow.” Unfortunately in one way for Ricky his ninth place became eighth post-race when Baybutt was judged to have been out of position at the start and was docked 10 seconds, dropping him to 17th, so what would have been pole for Collard becomes P2 on the grid…

Sandy Mitchell placed ninth for TRS Arden, ahead of Double R’s Tarun Reddy, with Jess Hawkins equalling her season’s best with 11th after a good drive for Falcon Motorsport.

The MSA Formula racers are back on track at Rockingham at 1020 tomorrow for the reverse-grid race with the Rockingham finale, in which Herta will go from the pole, to be televised live on ITV4, at 1550.

Provisional results Round 22 Rockingham 5 September 2015  amended
13 laps / 25.22 miles
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 18m 44.709s / 80.72mph
2 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec +1.872s
3 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +3.491s
4 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden +3.836s
5 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R +4.353s
6 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +4.933s
7 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin +5.767s
8 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden +12.000s
9 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden +13.105s
10 Tarun REDDY / IND / Double R +13.816s etc
Fastest lap Norris 1m 18.898s / 88.51mph Est Rec

Rookie class 1 Ticktum; 2 Ahmed; 3 Florescu; 4 Mitchell; 5 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB; 6 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec; 7 Ameya VAIDYANATHAN / IND / JTR; 8 Dan BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR

Grid for Round 23 Mitchell – Collard – Baybutt – Florescu – Fielding – Leist – Ahmed – Herta – Ticktum – Norris – Reddy etc

Provisional championship standings
1 Norris 302 points; 2 Collard 279; 3 Fielding 241; 4 Ticktum 235; 5 Herta 222; 6 Leist 189; 7 Mitchell 143; 8 Ahmed 107; 9 James Pull 89; 10 Tarun Reddy 81 etc
Rookie class 1 Ticktum 383; 2 Ahmed 293; 4 Mitchell 284; 4 Florescu 254; 5 Martins 239 etc

Full times