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

Baybutt snatches maiden MSA Formula pole position

  • Dan Baybutt and JTR team-mate James Pull get the best from the conditions in Brands Hatch qualifying
  • Baybutt on top spot for Round 1; Lando Norris will go from pole in Round 3

BRANDS HATCH 4 April, 2015 – MSA Formula burst into life this morning with a genuinely thrilling qualifying session featuring impressive driving in difficult conditions from the mainly teenage participants and a last-minute smash and grab raid on the championship’s first pole position of the season by reigning Formula Ford champion team JTR.

It was JTR’s 15-year-old charge Dan Baybutt who timed his run to perfection, he and his team-mate James Pull switching to fresh wet-weather Hankooks mid-way through the 20-minute session. They saved the best of their tyres for the final lap, with Baybutt going top by a third of a second and Pull slotting into third position. “We were just waiting for the track to dry,” said Baybutt. “The drier the track, the faster you go… the car felt great and the plan worked perfectly.”

Carlin’s Lando Norris split the two JTR men in terms of fastest qualifying times, and Lando’s second-fastest time was good enough to secure him the pole, ahead of Pull, for Sunday afternoon’s round three.

There were notable performances also from Double R’s Brazilian driver Matheus Leist, who was fourth fastest overall, and from Fortec’s Dan Ticktum, who gambled on a mid-session switch to slick tyres in the hope that the track would dry sufficiently. It didn’t quite pay off for the Sussex 15-year-old, whose best slick-tyre time was four-tenths shy of his quickest on wets. “Had there been time for another lap I would have gone quicker,” said Dan, “and another couple of laps and I would have had pole…” Ticktum will start from fifth this afternoon.

Jack Barlow’s MBM car suffered gearchange issues and he could manage no better than seventh behind Louise Richardson, another driver who played the tyre game well. Sennan Fielding (ninth) and Ricky Collard (11th) used the best from their tyres early on, while Colton Herta’s switch to slicks mid-session did not pay off as he had hoped; the Californian will start this afternoon from 13th. Sandy Mitchell was the only driver to opt to start the session on slicks and he struggled to get heat into them; he lines up 19th for TRS Arden. Missing from the session was young Romanian Alexandra Marinescu, still stiff and sore after her Friday testing crash. Just 0.83s covers the top seven on the grid.

MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by Ford EcoBoost
Provisional qualifying top 10 Brands Hatch 4 April 2015
1 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR 51.104s
2 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 51.422s
3 James PULL / GBR / JTR 51.608s
4 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R 51.666s
5 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec 51.865s
6 Louise RICHARDSON / GBR / Richardson 51.887s
7 Jack BARLOW / GBR / MBM 51.917s
8 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden 51.934s
9 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 52.221s
10 Tarun REDDY / IND / Double R 52.232s etc

Grid for Round 3 Norris – Pull – Leist – Baybutt – Ahmed – Barlow – Ticktum – Fielding – Ricky Collard – Richardson

Full times

JTR signs Daniel Baybutt for its MSA Formula team

  • First tests next week for 17-year-old karter, who joins James Pull in championship-winning team

Daniel Baybutt11 February, 2015 – The JTR team has lined up another young karting talent for its assault on the MSA Formula championship. Seventeen-year-old Daniel Baybutt will get his first taste of the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula chassis on Monday at Silverstone, with a further three days of track time planned for later in the week.

The Southport, Lancashire-based driver comes to car racing with an impressive karting pedigree: he was third in the MSA Super One Junior TKM Championship in 2012 and ’13, and last year finished fifth in Super One Formula KGP.

His talent is without question, says JTR team boss Nick Tandy: “Dan came to test with us over the winter and impressed in some difficult track conditions. It was remarkable how well he could handle a car at such an early stage in his career. Dan is a great addition to the JTR team because he is used to success in motor sport already and we plan to keep up our winning tradition in 2015 in the new MSA Formula.”

Baybutt, who works on the family arable farm, chose JTR for its family feel and impressive track record, Tandy’s squad having won British Formula Ford for the last three seasons. “Like my family, the Tandys have a background in farming and we all get along really well,” said Daniel. “I am looking on this move into car racing as a two-year plan; it will be a steep learning curve but I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Daniel and his JTR team-mate James Pull have four days of testing scheduled for the coming week, with a visit to the super-fast Thruxton circuit on the agenda following the Silverstone shakedown.

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.