Oulton Park challenge beckons for Ford EcoBoost-powered racers

  • MSA Formula back on track in Cheshire with Ricky Collard defending a slender championship lead
  • JTR’s Dan Baybutt hoping home-track support will help him back on to the podium

31 May, 2015 – After a month’s break from racing, the young stars of Ford’s junior single-seater series MSA Formula will be back in action next weekend (6/7 June) at the fast and daunting Oulton Park circuit. With five different race winners from nine races so far this season, and with just 25 points separating the top four in the title chase, there is plenty of drama set to unfold at the Cheshire circuit.

Ricky Collard, 18-year-old son of BTCC racer Rob, leads the Ford EcoBoost-powered championship to Cheshire thanks to his consistent finishing record – one win and three seconds so far – for the TRS Arden team. But Ricky is set to face a stiff threat to his slender points advantage from several drivers, not least mercurial 15-year-olds Dan Ticktum, Lando Norris and Sandy Mitchell.

Norris was the dominant force at Brands Hatch in April, winning twice for Carlin, and followed up with a third win at Thruxton in early May; he’s currently third in the standings behind Fortec flier Ticktum, the Donington double winner who is looking to bounce back from the mechanical dramas which blunted his challenge at Thruxton.

It was Collard’s TRS Arden team-mate Mitchell who showed everyone the way around Thruxton, the Scotsman claiming twin wins and a second-place finish to erase the memories of a frustrating start to his car-racing career. The other race winner of 2015 is Brazilian talent Matheus Leist, who triumphed for Double R at Donington and who was close to the sharp end at Thruxton also, despite never having seen the circuit ahead of qualifying.

JTR driver Dan Baybutt is hoping to enter victory lane soon, and his home circuit of Oulton would be the ideal venue. The Southport-based 17-year-old made it on to the overall MSA Formula podium for the first time in the Thruxton weekend opener but suffered a couple of mishaps in races two and three which cost him any chance of a follow-up.

“I’ve spent a lot of time since Thruxton reviewing the video of my races, where I was quick and able to come through the field, to see how I can improve on it,” said Dan. “I’m quite confident about Oulton Park – it’s the closest track to home and I’ll have a lot of family and friends there to cheer me on. It should be a good weekend and I’m aiming to do well.”

A rain-hit test session last week at Silverstone may not have provided Baybutt and the JTR team with much in the way of valuable test data, but it proved his car had suffered no lasting ill-effects from the damage it sustained at Thruxton. “It was a good check that the car was OK and helped me to get back into the feel of it. I’ve only had one day of testing at Oulton so far, so it’s going to be a challenge but again I’ve been looking at the data and I know where I can improve and make up time.”

The championship’s other top-10 men currently are Baybutt’s JTR team-mate James Pull, Carlin’s Colton Herta, 15-year-old son of IndyCar race winner Bryan, who is looking to make it to the podium for the first time, and two of MSA Formula’s more experienced runners, 19-year-old Sennan Fielding (JHR Developments) and Jack Barlow (MBM), who turns 20 the Monday after the Oulton Park rounds. After leading at Thruxton and scoring his maiden overall podium for the SWB Motorsport team, Brazilian 16-year-old Rafa Martins will be hopeful of joining them in the top 10.

Twenty-year-old Jess Hawkins will make her MSA Formula debut at Oulton Park, joining the Falcon Motorsport team alongside talented Rochdale racer Darius Karbaley. Jess will be the second female on the Oulton grid, joining Richardson Racing’s Louise Richardson.

Also back in action in Cheshire will be SWB’s Jack Butel, Carlin’s Romanian racer Petru Florescu, Indian chargers Tarun Reddy (Double R) and Ameya Vaidyanathan (JTR), Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver Josh Smith (Fortec), and Arden’s rookie Enaam Ahmed. Richardson Racing driver Ollie Pidgley says he can’t wait for Oulton: “It’s one of my favourites and I’m now in a car I’m really dialled-into. It should be awesome…”

There are two official test sessions at Oulton Park scheduled for Friday, with qualifying and two races on Saturday followed by a Sunday afternoon BTCC-supporting finale.

Oulton Park timetable
Friday 5 June
1130-1215 & 1540-1625 testing
Saturday 6 June
0930 Qualifying
1420 Race 1; 1750 Race 2
Sunday 7 June
1450 Race 3