Dan Zelos excels in MSA Formula test debut

  • Norfolk teenager tipped for ‘exciting future’ after head-turning test

21 OCTOBER, 2015 – Seventeen-year-old Norfolk-based racer Dan Zelos impressed when he made his testing debut at the wheel of a Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula car at Donington Park, during which he posted a lap time that would have put him firmly in the mix during the 2015 race weekend.

Since graduating from a successful karting career two years ago, Zelos has honed his craft in the fiercely disputed Ginetta Junior series. A brace of hugely impressive seasons witnessed the A-Level student twice finish inside the overall top four in the drivers’ standings among almost 30 high-calibre contenders. Not only that, but he tallied two victories, 16 podiums and 31 top-10 finishes along the way behind the wheel of his distinctive, Evergreen Tyres-sponsored and JHR Developments-run Ginetta G40.

Having earned his car racing spurs, Zelos is now ready to take the next step and to that end he climbed into the cockpit of JHR’s MSA Formula single-seater – a car driven to a hat-trick of triumphs by Sennan Fielding this season.

After getting to grips with the Ford EcoBoost-powered race car in double-quick fashion, the highly-rated Dereham-based hotshot went on to conjure up a lap time just three tenths-of-a-second shy of the benchmark set by former McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist Fielding back in April in not dissimilar conditions.

“I felt very excited ahead of the test and admittedly also a little bit nervous, as it was my first time in a single-seater and being an ‘open pit-lane’ day, I knew there would be a lot of other fast cars out there,” Zelos reflected. “That said, the team gave me some data to look through and a video to watch beforehand by way of preparation and Sennan was on-hand to offer advice, which really helped.

“It was the first time I had driven on slick tyres in cars, and the hardest part was getting the heat into them. I also had to get my head around the fact that the quicker you go round corners, the more grip you have available – that’s a bit counter-intuitive, so you have to train yourself to ignore what your brain is telling you! The MSA Formula car is an out-and-out, pure-bred racer. It’s light, nimble, powerful and a tremendous amount of fun to drive and it calls for a different skill set to tin-tops or sports cars.

“I got a handle on it more rapidly than I’d anticipated, and after my initial laps, the nerves disappeared. Once the first session was out of the way, I had more confidence to push and I ended up much closer to the pace than anybody – myself included – had expected, I think. I still have other options to try out and assess over the coming weeks in terms of what I’ll be doing next year, but driving the MSA Formula car has certainly given me something to think about…”

Having mentored Zelos since he made his car racing bow at the tail end of 2013, JHR team principal Steven Hunter is better-equipped than most to evaluate his performance, and he is in no doubt at all that the teenager has all the necessary qualities to forge a professional career in the sport.

“It was an exceptionally positive day – the boy can definitely drive a single-seater and he absolutely loved it!” he affirmed. “Every time he stepped out of it, he was grinning like a Cheshire cat! Dan took to the MSA Formula car like a duck to water – it came very naturally to him, and within about ten laps, he was setting some very competitive times.

“The whole concept just suits Dan down to the ground; his style is very smooth, he drives with an element of finesse and he has all the attributes required to become a very accomplished single-seater racer. I’ve always believed in Dan and see massive potential in him. He has a very exciting future, and if it was up to me, I’d sign him for MSA Formula right now.”

Fielding claims victory in Round 20 at Knockhill

  • Last-lap heartbreak for race-long leader Dan Ticktum
  • Sennan Fielding profits from Ticktum’s problems to claim his third win
  • Josh Smith the Rookie class victor

KNOCKHILL 23 AUGUST, 2015 – Sennan Fielding emerged victorious from a chaotic and incident-strewn 20th round of MSA Formula this morning at Knockhill to claim his third win of the season for the JHR Developments team. His triumph came at the expense of race-long leader Dan Ticktum, whose car failed him on the final lap. Colton Herta claimed second spot for Carlin, with Ticktum’s Fortec team-mate Josh Smith salvaging something for the squad with a hard-earned third place.

There was drama throughout the 19 laps, the first coming on the opening lap when Tarun Reddy (Double R) collided with Jessica Hawkins’ Falcon Motorsport machine, with both cars coming to rest in awkward places, necessitating a safety car intervention. Ticktum, who started from pole in the reverse-grid race, led from the start ahead of Smith and Herta, and maintained his position at the head of the field when racing resumed on lap seven. By the end of the ninth Dan’s lead over Josh was stretched to 1.9s.

But the safety car was on track again on the next lap while the car of championship leader Lando Norris (Carlin) was recovered from the Duffus Dip gravel trap; Lando had been tapped into a spin by a pursuer as he defended eighth place. Again, Ticktum handled the restart with skill to maintain course for what would have been his fourth win of the year.

Lap 14 saw a shake up behind as Herta launched an attack on Smith as Ticktum’s pursuers headed towards the Hairpin. There was contact between the pair, and Fielding took the opportunity to follow Herta past the momentarily unsettled Smith. Behind Josh, James Pull (Fortec) got caught up in the melee and speared off the track and into the barriers. Next time around Fielding seized second from Herta.

Ticktum’s trouble-free run came to a halt at the start of the 19th, his car losing power as it crossed the start line. Dan battled to get the machine back up to full speed but was literally powerless to prevent Fielding and the rest streaming past him. Thus Sennan – who yesterday claimed a surprise podium finish at Knockhill – gratefully took the win, with Herta crossing the line just seven-tenths behind and Smith collecting third, and the Rookie class victory.

Said winner Fielding: “It’s definitely been my lucky weekend so far. After qualifying I wasn’t expecting much in the way of results. I bided my time behind Josh and Colton and could see they were getting quite close to each other – I wanted to get stuck in too but I decided to hold back. As soon as I saw they had contact then I decided it was my time to take advantage down into the hairpin. I was happy to settle for second and then on the last lap I saw Dan have his problem, and it gifted me the win. We’ve not had the outright pace of the frontrunners all weekend, so it just shows the importance of being there at the finish.”

Race officials deemed the contact between Herta and Smith a racing incident: Said Rookie victor Josh: “Fortunately my car felt fine after my impact with Colton.”

Added Herta: “That was a crazy race. I was just trying to stay out of trouble – and overtake at the same time. At least I ended the race in better condition than a lot of the guys.”

TRS Arden team-mates Sandy Mitchell and Enaam Ahmed completed the Rookie podium with fourth and fifth overall respectively, ahead of Matheus Leist (Double R) and Ricky Collard (TRS Arden), who had started from the very back of the grid after his Saturday race retirement.

Dan Baybutt had looked set to collect eighth but was one of a gaggle of cars which rounded the chicane to find Ticktum’s ever-slowing car ahead of them. Avoiding action had to be taken and in the scrum Baybutt’s JTR car came to grief in the gravel. Eighth thus went the way of Rafael Martins’ SWB Motorsport car, with Jack Butel ninth for JHR and Ollie Pidgley claiming his first top-10 finish for Richardson Racing. The depleted finishing order was completed by Petru Florescu (Carlin) and Louise Richardson (Richardson Racing).

The Knockhill MSA Formula feature race, to be screened live on ITV4, follows at 1625, with Ticktum starting from pole position.

Provisional results Round 20 Knockhill 23 August 2015
19 laps / 24.07 miles
1 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 18m 52.111s / 76.54mph
2 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +0.722s
3 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec +1.498s
4 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden +3.076s
5 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden +3.438s
6 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R +3.827s
7 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden +4.353s
8 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB +6.851s
9 Jack BUTEL / GBR / JHR +8.949s
10 Ollie PIDGLEY / GBR / Richardson +11.315s etc
Fastest lap Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec 50.423s / 90.45mph

Rookie class 1 Smith; 2 Mitchell; 3 Ahmed; 4 Martins; 5 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin

Provisional championship standings
1 Lando Norris 265 points; 2 Collard 250; 3 Fielding 218; 4 Ticktum 213; 5 Herta 188; 6 Leist 178; 7 Mitchell 131; 8 James Pull 88; 9 Ahmed 83; 10 Tarun Reddy 80 etc
Rookie class 1 Ticktum 339; 2 Mitchell 254; 3 Ahmed 250; 4 Florescu 239; 5 Baybutt 234 etc

Full times

DRIVER NEWS: Breakthrough for Butel at Snetterton

Jack Butel (GBR) JHR Developments MSA Formula

Report supplied by driver’s PR

DRIVER NEWS 10 AUGUST, 2015 – After a lengthy summer break, action resumed in the MSA Formula Championship last weekend. Jersey driver Jack Butel was back up to speed and made a breakthrough in his racing career with a fine top 10 result, netting ninth place in the second race of the weekend. The JHR Developments driver also claimed two solid race finishes with a 17th and 16th to bookend his weekend.

Last time out at Croft in June, Butel used the round as a learning weekend as he got used to his new car and team. After a solid test at Donington in July, Jack was buoyant ahead of rounds 16,17 and 18 of the FIA approved MSA Formula at Snetterton in Norfolk. The round was to bring Eastern Promise for the Channel Islander as he was to claim his best result to date and his first top-ten finish of the year – a position he had yearned for since he started his 2015 campaign.

In Practice and Qualifying, Jack initially struggled for performance, but with the help of the team, Butel was able to adjust to the Snetterton 300 layout and establish a good base set-up for the weekend. Qualifying would see him line-up 21st towards the back of the pack, but this was an opportunity for Jack to shine in the Snetterton sunshine.

Sporting the now infamous JHR team colours, the St Saviour resident was optimistic ahead of the weekend’s action. After making a trademark good start, Butel flew around the 2.99 mile Norfolk venue gaining a handful of places as the race unfolded, settling for 17th at the fall of the flag.

Snetterton Circuit based just outside of Norwich was to be the host of glorious summer weather as well as incredible on-track action to kick-start the second half of the year. The highly exciting one-make single-seater, Ford Eco-Boost powered series is the breeding ground for some of the best young drivers in the world who fight tooth and nail for positions in the highly competitive field. The stars of tomorrow were up first on the Sunday timetable ahead of the main act –the hugely popular British Touring Car Championship which always attracts a sizeable crowd at every venue it rolls into. This is a perfect platform and chance for the young-guns to impress and shine on a large stage with thousands watching trackside and hundreds of thousands watching the live uninterrupted action on ITV4.

From the eighth row of the grid, Butel rocketed off the start line in his turbo-charged missile and overtook several rivals going into the first corner – and after several laps the former De La Salle student had put seven cars behind him. A much needed safety car bunched the field up allowing the 19-year-old another opportunity to go on the attack. The safety car peeled off with just seven minutes of the race remaining. Jack held 12th and could sniff further places. An oily substance was dropped on one of the high-speed corners at Snetterton which added another challenge in the summer heat. A mature drive by Jack and a tight line on the slippery corner prevailed as he watched more experienced rivals visit the grass run-off area – allowing him to scalp further positions. As the clock struck zero, Butel crossed the line in ninth position, bagging his first top 10 result of the season in the process.

Even ITV4 commentator Richard John Neil was delighted for Butel as he read the results to the hundreds of thousands watching on screens across the country – “Terrific result and a great drive by the Channel Islander to claim his first top 10 finish of the season.”

The final race of the day saw the grid line-up according to the second fastest qualifying position and after a difficult Saturday the good work from the previous race was undone as Butel had to start from the back of the grid. Undeterred Jack claimed a few more positions to collect 16th in the final race of the day.

Quote from Snetterton weekend
“Snetterton was to be my first proper racing weekend with JHR [Developments] as Croft was an extended test exercise. Qualifying was disappointing as we had gearbox issues, which meant we only got two flying laps right at the end of the session and with everything so tight we started towards the back.

“It was great to finally duck into the top 10. In fact it was amazing as everything clicked, I drove well and the car was brilliant. With the oil or coolant dropped down towards the end of the race I kept my head, took a tight line and drove through other people’s mistakes and ninth was a fine reward!

“Looking ahead to Knockhill – I have never raced there before so I will be going in with an open mind and will look to hoover up as much knowledge before we head to Scotland. I want to now be consistently in the top 10 and push on to beat ninth place at the next round.”

The next stop on the MSA Formula Championship calendar will see Jack head to Scotland on the 22/23 August to tackle the picturesque Knockhill Circuit. With a solid top-ten now in the bag, Jack and the team will look to continue the momentum and become a regular feature at the sharp end of the grid.

Fielding inherits the win in controversial Croft opener

  • Lando Norris and Dan Ticktum in collision at final corner
  • Fielding awarded victory after Ticktum excluded from results
  • First Rookie class win for Josh Smith

CROFT 27 JUNE, 2015 – A last-corner clash brought a dramatic end to the first MSA Formula race of the Croft weekend, with Carlin’s Lando Norris and Fortec’s Dan Ticktum colliding as they disputed the lead. Within sight of the chequered flag, victory and the championship lead, race-long leader Lando Norris was sidelined from the event, with Ticktum able to continue after their contact to cross the line first.

Norris, who had shown all his rivals a clean pair of heels in qualifying by topping the time sheets for the second meeting in succession, had made a good start from the pole and quickly established a lead over his rival which he looked set to maintain to the line.

Their collision also affected the battle for the final podium place: Sennan Fielding (JHR) had held third spot from the outset after a lightning start from fifth on grid and was pursued for the duration of the race by the TRS Arden car of Ricky Collard. Collard, suffering understeer throughout, had no answer for Fielding’s pace, but when they arrived at the hairpin to find Norris’s stricken car, Fielding opted to go around the outside of the debris while Collard opted for an inside line, gaining him track position. Thus the order at the finish line was Ticktum, Collard, Fielding.

Extensive post-race investigations by the race stewards decided that Ticktum had caused an avoidable collision, and excluded him from the results. Further, they ruled that Collard had passed Fielding under yellow warning flags, albeit unintentionally, and reversed their positions. Once the dust had settled it was therefore Sennan Fielding who was awarded the win, his second of the season for JHR – with Collard second. This result was upheld a month later following an unsuccessful appeal by Ticktum to the Motor Sports Council National Court.

Collard said: “I made a terrible start. It probably looked spectacular because I left some big black lines, but it wasn’t very quick. I’m a bit frustrated about that. I knew that the race would come to us and I kept chipping away and then we came upon Lando’s car in the middle of the track.”

The battle for the lower positions was less controversial. Double R’s Tarun Reddy slotted ahead of Carlin man Petru Florescu for fifth on the second lap and held station to the end for what became third and his maiden podium finish. Florescu retired to the pits mid-race with a loose rear wheel, promoting Louise Richardson to fourth – her best result of the season so far and a reward for the hard work of the Richardson Racing team since the Oulton Park rounds.

Matheus Leist was next up for Double R, ahead of Carlin’s Colton Herta, with Josh Smith enjoying his best run of the year to finish seventh overall, and therefore with Ticktum’s exclusion a maiden victory in the Rookie class, thanks to passing the TRS Arden car of Sandy Mitchell on the final lap. “It was a good race,” said Josh. “It’s all down to good preparation. We’ve worked hard and put in a big effort this weekend. We’re going forwards now.” Enaam Ahmed completed the top nine for TRS Arden, ahead of JTR team-mates Dan Baybutt, James Pull and Ameya Vaidyanathan.

Further last-lap drama was provided by Darius Karbaley (Falcon) and Jack Butel (JHR Developments), who collided at the Complex; both retired.

Provisional results Round 13 Croft 27 June 2015 amended
15 laps / 31.87 miles
1 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 20m 52.980s / 91.58mph
2 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden +0.838s
3 Tarun REDDY / IND / Double R 20m +1.823s
4 Louise RICHARDSON / GBR / Richardson +4.638
5 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R +7.415s
6 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +8.641s
7 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec +9.155s
8 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden +10.827s
9 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden +12.813s
10 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR +13.454s etc

Fastest lap Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 1m 22.274s / 92.98mph Est Rec

Rookie class 1 Smith, 2 Mitchell, 3 Ahmed, 4 Baybutt, 5 Ameya VAIDYANATHAN / IND / JTR, 6 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB

Provisional championship standings
1 Collard 193 points; 2 Norris 174; 3 Daniel Ticktum 149; 4 Leist 144; 5 Fielding 112; 6 Mitchell 93 etc
Rookie class 1 Ticktum 238; 2 Baybutt 177; 3 Mitchell 169; 4 Martins 148 etc

Full results

DRIVER NEWS: Jack Butel teams up with JHR Developments for second half of the season

DRIVER NEWS 24 JUNE, 2015 – Jersey driver Jack Butel will race in the remaining rounds of the MSA Formula Championship with JHR Developments. Butel had contested the opening four rounds with SWB Motorsport – the team he had worked and progressed with for the past 18 months. After a mutual decision to part ways it was decided that Jack would continue in the single-seater series in a JHR Developments prepared machine.

With a best place finish of 11th at Brands Hatch earlier this year, Jack has been developing well in the fiercely competitive one-make series and will look to continue his progress at Croft Circuit this weekend (27/28 June) aboard his Ford EcoBoost-powered machine.

”It is with regret that I have to part company with SWB Motorsport. The decision has not been easy but I believe it is the best thing for both parties. I have had a great 18 months with the team and they have taught me a lot having raced in Formula Renault, MSA Formula and they helped me make my rallying debut on the Jersey Rally. I wish all of SWB the best in the future as I continue my racing career.”

As one door closes another exciting chapter in Jack Butel’s racing career is soon to get underway at Croft later this week. “I am delighted to be joining JHR Developments for Croft and the remainder of the season. When I spoke to Steven Hunter at JHR, I felt confident I could work with the team to help maintain my career momentum.”

Indeed, JHR Developments’ credentials in the FIA sanctioned series speak for themselves, and the Derbyshire squad currently run Sennan Fielding who has secured one win and three podiums to date. JHR Developments team principal Steven Hunter was excited at the prospect of the 19-year-old joining his firm. “Jack has great potential at this level considering his experience and we are pleased to have him on board as we look to work with him and take him further up the grid as the year goes on. He shows a great level of commitment, desire and hunger to progress and he has all the attributes to learn and learn quickly.

“Running two cars is a good move for JHR as we will gain more data and input to move us forward and grow within the championship. We want to become an established team in the MSA Formula series and we want Jack to be a part of that.”

Fielding claims his maiden MSA Formula race victory

  • Sennan Fielding battles through from third on the grid to nab a decisive Oulton Park win for JHR Developments
  • Matheus Leist second for Double R as Dan Ticktum takes the Rookie honours

OULTON PARK 6 JUNE, 2015 – Just as Ricky Collard proved earlier this afternoon, a fast start is what you need for success at Oulton Park and in this evening’s reverse-grid race it was Sennan Fielding who underlined the point. Fielding’s JHR Developments machine made a rocketship getaway from third on the grid to slice between front-row men Dan Baybutt (JHR) and Dan Ticktum (Fortec) to seize the lead into the first turn.

Fielding kept the hammer down to emerge at the end of the opening lap with a handsome three-second lead over Baybutt, and though his leading pursuer soon became Double R’s Matheus Leist, who broke the hours-old Oulton Park lap record as he chased, Fielding was not to be denied his and his team’s maiden MSA Formula victory, and with it the Ford £1000 winner’s cheque.

“I made an extremely good start,” said Sennan, “and I wasn’t really expecting to… Everything just came together for me and I managed just to get away and by the time I got to Cascades I already had a big lead. After that I knew I had just not to make any mistakes and keep the lap times steady. We put new brake discs in the car after race one and I wasn’t sure how long they would take to bed in; I had to work them quite hard to get them working well.”

Leist, who from P6 also made a brilliant start, crossed the finish line two seconds behind Fielding and the Brazilian was pleased with his progress and the result, which takes him to within three points of the championship top three: “It’s really great to start P6 and finish second,” said Matheus. “The car was good – we made some changes after the first race – and now the championship is looking good for me too.”

Having been passed by Leist on lap two, Baybutt clung to third for a further two laps before being overcome by Ticktum and dropped to fourth. Said Baybutt: “It’s not that I made a bad start but the guy behind me got an exceptional one… I struggle on cold tyres; once they warm up and get going I’m fine.” Ticktum’s third place gave him his seventh Rookie class win of the year.

Petru Florescu might have been Carlin’s highest-placed finisher; the Romanian ran fifth up to lap five, when he was summoned to the pit lane for a drive-through penalty having been deemed to have anticipated the start. MBM’s Jack Barlow inherited fifth, leading a gaggle of closely matched cars for the duration, with Carlin man Colton Herta sixth ahead of SWB’s Rafael Martins, Lando Norris (Carlin) and race one winner Ricky Collard (Arden).

Tarun Reddy completed the top 10 for the Double R team, ahead of Sandy Mitchell’s Arden car and Darius Karbaley for Falcon. James Pull put behind him his first-race crash to secure 13th for JTR, with Toby Sowery (Falcon) 14th ahead of the penalised Florescu.

Josh Smith (Fortec) and Enaam Ahmed (Arden) made contact on the opening lap; Smith retired but Ahmed was able to continue after repairs to finish 20th. Ameya Vaidyanathan (JTR) failed to make the grid after a fuel line problem.

Provisional results Round 11 Oulton Park 6 June 2015
15 laps / 33.39 miles
1 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 20m 58.718s / 95.49mph
2 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R +2.032s
3 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec +10.379s
4 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR +16.076s
5 Jack BARLOW / GBR / MBM +17.719s
6 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +18.463s
7 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB +19.009s
8 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin +19.491s
9 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden +20.203s
10 Tarun REDDY / IND / Double R +20.777s etc

Fastest lap Leist 1m 22.807s / 96.77mph Rec

Rookie class 1 Ticktum, 2 Baybutt, 3 Martins, 4 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden, 5 Darius KARBALEY / GBR / Falcon, 6 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin, 7 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden

Full results

Provisional championship standings
1 Collard 157 points; 2 Norris 142; 3 Ticktum 137; 4 Leist 134; 5 Mitchell 88; 6 James Pull 79; 7 Herta 73; 8 Fielding 72; 9 Barlow 66; 10 Martins 58 etc
Rookie class 1 Ticktum 212; 2 Baybutt 150; 3 Mitchell 143; 4 Martins 134; 5 Florescu 113; 6 Ahmed 112 etc