Team-mates Norris and Herta share the qualifying honours at Rockingham

  • Lando Norris sets the best time and his Carlin team-mate Colton Herta bags the second MSA Formula pole position
  • Championship leader Ricky Collard strikes trouble… and a Rockingham barrier

ROCKINGHAM 5 SEPTEMBER, 2015 – Lando Norris underlined his qualifying prowess this morning by topping the MSA Formula Championship times for the fourth time this season. The 15-year-old Carlin pilot lapped the 1.94-mile Rockingham Motor Speedway two-tenths faster than his closest rival, team-mate Colton Herta, to bag the pole for this afternoon’s 22nd round of the Ford EcoBoost-powered series.

But despite bettering his Friday testing pace, Norris’s domination was not complete – his second-best time was 0.047s behind that of Herta’s, so the young American will start from top spot in tomorrow afternoon’s live-televised finale.

“I was able to find some time in a few places,” said Lando. “Half a tenth here and half a tenth there, and I think the track was a tiny bit faster than yesterday even though it was a bit damp in a couple of places. We made a few tweaks with the set up and I changed a few things in my driving, and it all came together.”

It was a disastrous session for championship leader Ricky Collard. Ten minutes into the session the TRS Arden driver hooked a wheel on the kerb out of Gracelands and slid sideways into the barriers, ending his session and bringing out the red flags to halt qualifying. “I just made a mistake,” said Ricky. “It was 100 per cent my fault and it slid in sideways. I’m sure that the team will be able to fix it. It will make for a couple of interesting races – my overtaking is good…” Ricky will start from the very back of the 20-car grid this afternoon and in the final race, and must pin his hopes on a solid race-one drive and a better start slot for tomorrow’s reverse-grid race.

Third fastest today was Fortec’s Dan Ticktum, with Sennan Fielding fourth for JHR Developments and Matheus Leist fifth in his Double R machine. Enaam Ahmed upheld TRS Arden honours by posting sixth-best time, with his team-mate Sandy Mitchell, who yesterday in testing hit the Rockingham pit straight wall, taking 10th.

Dan Baybutt claimed seventh, his best qualifying result since Thruxton, at what is home circuit for his JTR team, ahead of Carlin’s Petru Florescu and Fortec’s James Pull. The first MSA Formula race meeting of the Rockingham weekend follows at 1425.

Provisional qualifying times Rockingham 5 September 2015
Grid order for Round 22
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 1:18.077
2 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin 1:18.279
3 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec 1:18.509
4 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 1:18.549
5 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R 1:18.606
6 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden 1:18.706
7 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR 1:18.807
8 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 1:18.864
9 James PULL / GBR / Fortec 1:18.896
10 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden 1:18.901 etc

Round 23 grid order (based on second-fastest times) Herta – Norris – Ticktum – Fielding – Ahmed – Florescu – Mitchell – Leist – Pull – Toby Sowery etc

Full times

Norris heads super-close Rockingham test day

  • Carlin driver Lando Norris beats Sennan Fielding to top spot by six-hundredths of a second
  • Top 11 covered by less than a second at the Speedway

ROCKINGHAM 4 SEPTEMBER, 2015 – With less than a second covering the top 11 drivers in today’s Rockingham MSA Formula testing, the scene is set for a thrillingly competitive weekend of Ford EcoBoost-powered action at the Northamptonshire Speedway.

Carlin’s 15-year-old star Lando Norris led the way throughout, topping the morning test by 0.176s from championship leader Ricky Collard and going on to improve by two-tenths on new tyres in the afternoon to end the day ahead overall, albeit by the reduced margin of 0.065s. It was not Collard but Sennan Fielding who ran Norris closest, the JHR Developments driver improving by nearly a second during the day after the team traced and cured a gearbox issue.

Said Lando: “Sennan was fastest and then I went out for my second run and improved by two-tenths, which is quite a bit – it was a good session. We’ve done a few days testing here and I know the circuit quite well, but everyone is very close behind. I’ll be concentrating on trying to win the first and last races but we will have to wait to see what happens; it will be tough.”

Sennan Fielding: “Everyone else was chucking new tyres at their cars – we’ve had only one set all day, so I am pleased with second. The car was really good today straight away and I think we have a really good race car for the weekend. This morning we had a few gearbox issues but they seem to have found the issue, so I am hoping for some strong results.”

Fortec’s Dan Ticktum was third overall today ahead of Carlin man Colton Herta, with Collard pipping his TRS Arden team-mate Enaam Ahmed to fifth spot overall despite failing to improve his pace in the afternoon. Dan Baybutt was seventh fastest for the JTR team at their home circuit with Double R’s Matheus Leist eighth.

Sandy Mitchell was the first to discover the unyielding nature of Rockingham’s pit-straight wall after an untidy exit from the Brook chicane early in session one. “I carried a little too much speed out of the corner and I think the tyres weren’t fully ‘in’ yet,” said the Forfar 15-year-old. “I brushed the wall with the rear and that put the front into the wall as well…” Sandy’s TRS Arden mechanics did sterling work to repair the car and he thanked them by setting ninth-best time. Petru Florescu (Carlin) and Tarun Reddy (Double R) were also within a second of Norris at the flag to complete the top 11.

On his first outing with the MBM team, Toby Sowery ran 15th quickest, with ex-Formula Ford racer Greg Holloway 20th on his MSA Formula debut at the wheel of a Richardson Racing machine.

Official qualifying is set for 1020 tomorrow ahead of a 1425 start for the championship’s 22nd round. There are two further races on Sunday, the second of which will be screened live on ITV4 at 1550.

Leading testing times Rockingham 4 September 2015 (am/pm)
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 1:18.451 / 1:18.242
2 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 1:19.267 / 1:18.307
3 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec 1:18.942 / 1:18.365
4 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin 1:18.686 / 1:18.592
5 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden 1:18.627 / 1:18.758
6 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden 1:18.974 / 1:18.691
7 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR 1:19.343 / 1:18.751
8 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R 1:19.151 / 1:18.789
9 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden 1:20.577 / 1:18.978
10 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 1:19.035 / 1:19.032 etc

Full times

Win number 5 and series lead for Ford-powered Norris

  • Lando Norris claims the win in eventful and dramatic Knockhill opener
  • Enaam Ahmed second overall and the Rookie class victor for the first time
  • Disaster for erstwhile points leader Ricky Collard, who tangles with Dan Ticktum

KNOCKHILL 22 AUGUST, 2015 – Lando Norris battled back from opening-lap drama at Knockhill this afternoon to score his fifth win of the MSA Formula season, and with it take the lead of the Ford EcoBoost-powered championship. The 15-year-old’s victory came at the expense of his Carlin team-mate Colton Herta, however – Herta crossed the line a nose ahead of Norris but the American was penalised by five seconds for exceeding the track limits.

Herta’s penalty promoted TRS Arden driver Enaam Ahmed to a season’s best second place after a brilliant drive by the 15-year-old Londoner, who led for much of the race, and also assisted Sennan Fielding to third place on the podium.

It was certainly a topsy-turvy race for Norris, whose Hankook-shod machine started from pole position after setting an exceptional qualifying lap time of 49.626s around the 1.27-mile Fife track – the quickest practice lap of any competitor across all the championships in action at Knockhill this weekend. Fortec’s Dan Ticktum lined up second on the grid with a qualifying time just 0.078s shy of Norris’s best, with Ricky Collard third ahead of Herta, Ahmed and Sandy Mitchell.

Norris made a perfect grid getaway on a track made slippery by a light shower, but then overcooked it at Clark’s on the opening lap, ploughing straight through the gravel to hand the lead to Ticktum, with Collard, Herta and Amhed in close pursuit. Lando was able to regain the circuit in ninth place and, as the track dried, set about undoing the damage to his race.

Ticktum led Collard for the opening six laps but, as they rounded Taylor’s Hairpin for the seventh time, Ricky attempted a pass up Dan’s inside and their cars tangled, sending Collard to the pits and retirement and Ticktum spinning back to 13th. That put Ahmed, who had earlier passed Herta, into the lead of a car race for the first time. If Enaam had nerves he didn’t show it, heading Herta and Norris – who staged a brilliant recovery drive back to third by the seventh lap – for the ensuing 16 laps.

But Enaam had a problem: he clipped a kerb at mid-distance which put his steering out of kilter, and though he battled to drive around the issue, the Carlin boys were right on his tail into the Hairpin on the penultimate lap and charged alongside him along the start/finish straight to make it a three-abreast start to the final tour.

Ahmed had to yield as they approached Duffus Dip, with Herta stealing ahead and Norris following him through. Colton had no inkling that he’d been served a five-second track limits penalty a few laps earlier and punched the air to celebrate what he thought was his third victory on the bounce…

Norris was surprised and delighted to discover he’d won: “It was certainly an exciting race. I got a good start but then I went into one of the corners too hard and went off. When I got back on though I was quite fast and able to catch back up, especially as the track dried. I was a bit lucky…”

Second-placed Ahmed was philosophical: “Half-way through the race I hit a kerb and it knocked my steering out. I was really slow after that and I couldn’t keep them behind me. I’m really disappointed because I felt a win was on the cards. It’s good to get my first overall podium and Rookie class win, though, and I am happy about that and looking forward to taking that result on into the next races. I had a really difficult first half of the season but I kept my head up and worked hard at it and my pace has got better.”

Sennan Fielding, who crossed the line fourth but was promoted to third, completed a surprised podium trio: “I had no idea I came third until they told me in parc ferme afterwards – I’ll take it, though!”

Forfar racer Sandy Mitchell enjoyed a strong home run in his TRS Arden machine to claim fourth – and Rookie second – ahead of the penalised Herta, who was classified fifth. Now with the Fortec team, James Pull scored his best result since Donington with sixth, ahead of his team-mates Josh Smith and Ticktum. Matheus Leist and Tarun Reddy completed the top 10 for Double R.

Dan Baybutt (JTR) spun to the back early on before climbing to ninth, then tangled with Louise Richardson at the hairpin on the penultimate lap and slipped to 11th, ahead of Jessica Hawkins (Falcon), Ollie Pidgley (Richardson Racing), Petru Florescu (Carlin) and Richardson, who was badly delayed by the Baybutt clash. Jack Butel (JHR) brought up the rear, with Rafa Martins (SWB) an early retiree.

There are two races at Knockhill tomorrow – the reverse-grid race, in which Ticktum will start from pole, at 1025 and then the feature race, to be screened live on ITV4 at 1625, with Ticktum starting from top spot.

Provisional results Round 19 Knockhill 22 August 2015
23 laps / 29.14 miles
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 20m 04.573s / 87.08mph
2 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden +0.662s
3 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +3.424s
4 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden +3.702s
5 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +4.413s
6 James PULL / GBR / Fortec +9.706s
7 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec +11.454s
8 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec +21.453s
9 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R +26.006s
10 Tarun REDDY / IND / Double R +28.145s etc
Fastest lap Norris 50.075s / 91.08mph Est Rec

Rookie class 1 Ahmed; 2 Mitchell; 3 Smith; 4 Ticktum; 5 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR; 6 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin

Grid for Round 20 Ticktum – Smith – Pull – Herta – Mitchell – Fielding – Ahmed – Norris – Leist – Reddy

Provisional championship standings
1 Norris 265 points; 2 Ricky Collard 244; 3 Ticktum 212; 4 Fielding 193; 5= Herta & Leist 170; 7 Mitchell 119; 8 Pull 88; 9 Reddy 80; 10 Ahmed 73 etc
Rookie class 1 Ticktum 338; 2 Mitchell 236; 3 Ahmed 235; 4 Baybutt 234; 5 Florescu 229 etc

Full times

Norris doubles up in Croft MSA Formula qualifying

  • Twin poles for Lando as he bids to wrest championship lead from Ricky Collard
  • Collard qualifies third behind Norris and Dan Ticktum

CROFT 27 JUNE, 2015 – Lando Norris led the way in MSA Formula qualifying at Croft this morning, the Carlin driver bagging pole for this afternoon’s 13th round of the Ford EcoBoost-powered championship and also for tomorrow’s live-televised round 15. His best lap around the 2.125-mile North Yorkshire circuit was a tenth faster than that of his closest rival, Fortec’s Dan Ticktum.

Norris’s second-best lap was a blinder too, and was again a tenth better than Ticktum could achieve. Lando played a canny game, electing to sit out the early laps of the 20-minute session in order to preserve his slick Hankook tyres for the later stages.

Said Lando: “The plan to save the tyres worked well and two poles is a good result. The plan for the race is to hopefully make a good start like I did in the last Oulton race, which was really my first good start of the year. If I can replicate that hopefully I can get away…”

Championship leader Collard was not disappointed with his third-place showing and believes his race pace will be good: “It’s a bit gutting to be P1 for a lot of the session and then to get pipped at the end but this is better than I was expecting – we had not tested here at all and I thought we’d really be on the back foot. I have issues with oversteer at high speed and understeer at low speed but I am sure we can sort that out. We have the race pace and I will be fired up for the race too.”

There was a season-best qualifying performance from Carlin’s Romanian racer Petru Florescu, who beat his team-mate Colton Herta to fourth spot by a 0.077s margin. Though he qualified fifth, Herta will start race one this afternoon from P10 due to a penalty imposed after his Oulton Park crash earlier this month.

Louise Richardson, her Richardson Racing car extensively overhauled after Oulton Park, was another to set a qualifying best for the year to date. Louise will line up seventh behind JHR Developments driver Sennan Fielding. “We’ve a few tweaks to make and I need to look at the data to see where I was making mistakes because I don’t think I ever got a really clean lap,” said Louise. “There are still a couple more tenths to be found if we can hook it all up together.”

Matheus Leist out-qualified his Double R team-mate Tarun Reddy by a tenth of a second to secure eighth, with TRS Arden man Sandy Mitchell completing the qualifying top 10.

There woes in the JTR camp with Dan Baybutt disappointed to qualify 12th. He fared better than his team-mate James Pull, who was in trouble even before the off when his car’s front wing was damaged in a collision with another car as they left the collecting area. James was 14th after a pit stop for a new nose.

The first race of the Croft triple-header follows at 1340.

Provisional qualifying times Croft 27 June 2015
Grid order for Round 13
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 1:21.369
2 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec 1:21.463
3 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden 1:21.569
4 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 1:21.835
5 Colton HERTA* / USA / Carlin 1:21.912
6 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 1:21.960
7 Louise RICHARDSON / GBR / Richardson 1:22.088
8 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R 1:22.129
9 Tarun REDDY / IND / Double R 1:22.233
10 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden 1:22.234 etc
*5 place grid penalty

Round 15 grid order (based on second-fastest times): Norris – Ticktum – Collard – Herta – Florescu – Fielding – Leist – Richardson – Mitchell – Reddy etc

Full times

Norris and Collard head to head again in Croft testing

  • Lando quickest in the dry, Ricky in the wet as championship leaders prepare for a weekend of action in North Yorkshire

CROFT 26 JUNE, 2015 – Championship top two Ricky Collard and Lando Norris showed their class again today at Croft in testing ahead of the weekend’s rounds of the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship races, Collard quickest in the morning’s wet session and Norris on top in the dry in the afternoon.

At the end of the day it was Carlin’s 15-year-old Norris on top overall, his best lap for the 2.125-mile North Yorkshire track three-tenths of a second better than Collard’s optimum time. Fresh from victory last weekend at Spa on his debut in the German F4 Championship, Norris was pleased to have reacclimatised himself so well to his British car and also to Croft, the scene of his maiden car-race victory last season.

“It was hot and hard work,” said Lando. “It’s quite a bumpy track and it’s hard to get everything right and put a whole lap together. It’s easy to make a mistake and lose a lot of time, so I’m pleased overall.”

Collard was upbeat about his chances for the weekend of retaining his championship lead over Norris, which stands currently at seven points: “I feel that we didn’t get the best from the car. We have some gearing issues and if we can sort them out, maybe we can edge Norris in qualifying. This had always been a bit of bogey track for me so I was pleased to be quickest in the wet.”

Collard’s best lap in the wet morning session was 0.016s better than that of his closest rival, Fortec’s Dan Ticktum. Ticktum set third-best time behind Norris and Collard in the dry, with Colton Herta P4 for Carlin and Tarun Reddy (Double R) close behind for fifth. JTR’s Dan Baybutt completed the testing top six. Seventh, and the final driver within a second of Norris, was Double R’s Matheus Leist.

There was a strong showing from Richardson Racing’s Louise Richardson, who ran as high as third in the middle stages of session two before slipping back to ninth. Said Louise: “We’ve given the car a bit of an overhaul since Oulton, have gone radical with the set-up and it seems to be working. There are still a few tweaks to be made but it’s there or thereabouts now and the rest has to come from me…”

Jack Butel was pleased with his showing at the wheel of a brand-new chassis for his new team JHR Developments: “It’s going well and we are getting to grips with the car, which has never raced before.” Jack was 17th overall, with 1.4s to find to get on terms with his team-mate Sennan Fielding, who was eighth overall.

The afternoon session was incident-free but there were a couple of interruptions to proceedings this morning with the session interrupted 10 minutes from its scheduled end while the JTR machine of Ameya Vaidyanathan was retrieved following a minor off at Tower. It was then red-flagged for good with a minute to go when Darius Karbaley clobbered the tyres at the Complex.

Saturday will be a busy day for competitors with official qualifying scheduled for 1025. The first of the Croft weekend’s three races is set to follow at 1340 and the reverse-grid race is due off at 1725. Sunday afternoon’s finale will be screened live on ITV4.

Leading testing times Croft 26 June 2015 (am/pm)
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 1:30.296 / 1:21.402
2 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden 1:30.223 / 1:21.725
3 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec 1:30.239 / 1:22.033
4 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin 1:30.859 / 1:22.196
5 Tarun REDDY / IND / Double R 1:30.848 / 1:22.342
6 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR 1:31.932 / 1:22.370
7 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R 1:31.010 / 1:22.370
8 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 1:31.641 / 1:22.401
9 Louise RICHARDSON / GBR / Richardson 1:31.821 / 1:22.488
10 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden 1:31.346 / 1:22.518 etc

Full times

Ford-powered racers ready for mid-season Croft outings

  • Ricky Collard leads Lando Norris to Yorkshire with a slender seven-point advantage
  • Jack Barlow hoping that his first visit to Croft will provide his long-awaited maiden podium finish
  • New team for Jack Butel

21 JUNE, 2015 – The Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship heads north next weekend (27/28 June) to the Croft circuit, near Darlington, for a trio of races which will bring the series to its mid-point. Whoever leaves North Yorkshire with the championship lead will enjoy a significant psychological advantage as the young single-seater heroes and their teams head into a much deserved six-week summer break.

Currently it is experience leading the way: 18-year-old Formula Ford graduate Ricky Collard heads the points table for the TRS Arden team thanks to two race victories and a further four second-place finishes from the opening 12 rounds. But Ricky is only seven points clear of the season’s outstanding 15-year-old talent, Carlin’s Lando Norris, who has racked up four wins already.

Croft’s a circuit with happy memories for Lando – it was there last season that he scored his first race win in a car, when he triumphed in the Ginetta Junior series. Collard fared less well at Croft in Formula Ford: he was swept up in another’s accident in the first race of the weekend and ended his weekend with a best race finish of eighth.

One driver who knows only too well what it’s like to be knocked out of a race is Jack Barlow, who was set fair for his and the MBM team’s maiden podium finish last time out, at Oulton Park, before fate intervened in the shape of an avoidable collision which left him watching, blameless, from the sidelines – far from the 20th birthday present the Hastings-based driver was hoping for.

“We were leading up to our first podium,” said Jack. “We’d had a couple of fourths and a couple of fifths, but hadn’t quite made it to third. We were in perfect shape with Herta and Martins coming together on the first lap. We had new left tyres also, and the only other two with new lefts were the drivers in front of me [Norris and Collard], and if I’d gone with them I would have been on for a good result. It’s frustrating, but what can you do?”

Barlow is hopeful that his luck will change at Croft, although it is not a circuit on which he has raced before: “I’ve never been to Croft, so I’m keeping an open mind about it. I can pick up circuits quite quickly, so will be going straight into it on the Friday and using that as a learning day.

“There are some areas where we are missing out on the set-up side of things because we are still learning about the car. We haven’t really had much time to test. But we are getting closer and closer and hopefully will be on the podium before long.”

He’s looking forward to the summer break, and the opportunity to source much-needed further funding to help him complete his season. “We are OK financially for Croft but then we have six weeks where we need to find more budget. That’s the nice thing about having the summer break – it gives us a chance to settle down and talk to a few people.”

After a dismal time at Thruxton in May, Donington double winner Dan Ticktum had hoped to get his season back on track at Oulton earlier this month; a third and a fourth didn’t exactly achieve what he had hoped but the Fortec driver maintains championship third, 26 points off Collard’s tally.

There have been three other race winners so far this unpredictable season – Double R’s Matheus Leist, who won the Donington reverse-grid race; JHR Developments driver Sennan Fielding, who rocketed to victory from third on the grid in the second Oulton race; and TRS Arden man Sandy Mitchell, who did the double at Thruxton.

Fielding will be hoping to carry a little local support into the Croft races, having spent his Saturday in Newcastle city centre showing interested passers-by the intricacies of his Ford EcoBoost-powered machine as part of a BTCC promotional event for the circuit.

Fielding and any of the above mentioned could be on for further victories at Croft, and to that list you can add many further names, including those of the other podium visitors so far in 2015: JTR duo James Pull and Dan Baybutt, Carlin’s Colton Herta and SWB Motorsport man Rafael Martins.

In the Rookie class it’s very much Ticktum who leads the way thanks to eight class wins from 12 starts, with Baybutt, Mitchell, Martins and Carlin’s Romanian racer Petru Florescu battling it out for second spot.

After her impressive MSA Formula debut at Oulton Park, 20-year-old Jessica Hawkins is returning with the Falcon Motorsport team, alongside Darius Karbaley. Richardson Racing will field its regular two cars for Louise Richardson and Ollie Pidgley, with Indian talent Tarun Reddy lining up alongside Leist at Double R.

The championship’s second Indian racer, Ameya Vaidyanathan, will be in action for JTR, with Josh Smith piloting the Racing Steps Foundation-backed Fortec car and Enaam Ahmed, fresh from racing in the SMP F4 Championship in Russia, on the TRS Arden team strength.

Jerseyman Jack Butel will be switching to a new – as yet unconfirmed – team for Croft, having parted company with SWB Motorsport. Says Jack: “This 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 and have had some great times with everyone in the team. I wish all of SWB the best in the future as I continue my racing career.”

The Croft weekend gets underway on Friday with two test sessions ahead of an action-filled Saturday comprising official qualifying and two races. Sunday afternoon’s finale is to be screened live on ITV4 between rounds of the British Touring Car Championship.

Croft timetable
Friday 26 June
0930 & 1340 Testing
Saturday 27 June
1025 Qualifying, 1340 Round 13, 1725 round 14
Sunday 28 June
1549 Round 15

Norris takes his fourth win of the season

  • Lando leads from pole position to chequered flag for Carlin
  • Ricky Collard second to maintain his championship lead
  • Incidents ahead help Sennan Fielding claim third place from 10th on the grid

OULTON PARK 7 JUNE, 2015 – Lando Norris led all the way from pole position to chequered flag this afternoon to clinch his and the Carlin team’s fourth win of Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula season. Saturday’s Oulton Park winner Ricky Collard followed the 15-year-old to the line for second place to retain his championship lead.

Collard had outgunned pole man Norris away from the startline in the first of the weekend’s races, but it was a case today of once bitten, twice shy for Lando: he made an impeccable getaway to lead Ricky into Old Hall Corner and by the end of the first lap had built a half-second lead.

It was plain sailing from there on for Norris – apart from a brief safety car period, which he handled well – and he smashed the day-old lap record for Oulton’s Island circuit on the way to a 3.7-second victory. Said Lando from the top step of the podium: “For once I got a quite decent start. I was disappointed yesterday with my start and it cost me the win so it’s pleasing to have got it right this time. The safety car was a bit of a worry but I made an OK restart, although Ricky was a little closer to me than I would have liked. I’m looking forward to the next races at Croft now because it’s the circuit where I had my first win last year.”

Collard was pleased with his weekend’s work: a win and a second place which leaves him seven points ahead of Norris in the standings as the series heads to Croft in three weeks for the championship’s mid-point meeting. “It was a good weekend; we’ve had the pace and the team has done a great job. I tried everything I could at the start but I think Lando had been looking at his data and he made a better start this time.”

Sennan Fielding was also beaming on the podium. The Chesterfield racer had no great hopes of displaying the sort of pace he showed yesterday to win Round 11, not least because he was starting from 10th on the grid. But two incidents within the opening two laps played perfectly into his hands.

The first came at the hairpin on lap one when fourth-placed Colton Herta (Carlin) locked up and cannoned into Rafa Martins’ SWB Motorsport car immediately in front; Martins was spun around but got going again, Herta’s machine was badly damaged. Post-race, Colton was penalised by race officials with a five-place grid penalty for the next race.

At the same spot next time around, and with yellow flags still waving to denote danger, Double R driver Matheus Leist tried an up-the-inside manoeuvre on third-placed Jack Barlow (MBM) and the pair collided, with Barlow an instant retirement and Leist able to continue. He was later excluded from the results.

All the drama played perfectly into Fielding’s hands; the first helped promote him to fifth on lap one and the second boosted him to third, which position he held to the flag for his third podium of the season. “I wasn’t expecting to finish on the podium,” said Sennan, “especially here where it’s so hard to overtake. But everything came together and I was in the right place at the right time; the incidents were unfortunate for those involved but fortunate for me. I didn’t have fresh tyres, so I played it safe.”

Leist’s car sustained a badly bent front wing in the clash but the Brazilian was able to fight the resulting understeer to the end to cross the line, fending off the attentions of Petru Florescu (Carlin) in the mid stages and towards the end those of Fortec’s Dan Ticktum, who had passed Florescu for fifth, and the Rookie class lead, on lap 11. With Leist’s exclusion, Ticktum was classified fourth and Florescu fifth.

Championship newcomer Toby Sowery enjoyed a strong run for Fortec from 11th on the grid to sixth at the line, passing JTR’s James Pull on lap six, with Tarun Reddy also finding a way past Pull for seventh on the penultimate lap. Pull and his team-mate Dan Baybutt finished eighth and ninth, with Josh Smith (Fortec) claiming his best finish of the weekend in 10th.

TRS Arden team-mates Enaam Ahmed and Sandy Mitchell finished in line astern for 11th and 12th, with Louise Richardson overcoming the pain of her badly blistered hands to secure 13th for Richardson Racing. Martins, whose strong prospects from third on the grid were dented by Herta’s first-lap assault, came home 14th.

Jessica Hawkins (Falcon) racked up the third finish of her debut MSA Formula weekend to take 15th, ahead of Jack Butel’s SWB car and Ollie Pidgley, whose Richardson Racing car survived a lurid late-race spin and grassy moment. Darius Karbaley (Falcon) had to take swift action to avoid collecting Pidgley; he finished 18th. JTR’s Ameya Vaidyanathan joined Herta and Barlow in retirement.

Today’s Oulton Park race is to be screened ‘as live’ tonight on ITV4 from 2200.

Provisional results Round 12 Oulton Park 7 June 2015
13 laps / 28.94 miles
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 20m 00.554s / 86.77mph
2 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden +3.751s
3 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +8.060s
4 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec +12.599s
5 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin +12.889s
6 Toby SOWERY / GBR / Fortec +13.469s
7 Tarun REDDY / IND / Double R +13.816s
8 James PULL / GBR / JTR +14.392s
9 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR +15.145s
10 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec +15.523s etc

Fastest lap Norris 1m 22.482s / 97.15mph Rec

Rookie class 1 Ticktum, 2 Florescu, 3 Baybutt, 4 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec, 5 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden, 6 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden, 7 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB, 8 Darius KARBALEY / GBR / Falcon

Full results

Provisional championship standings
1 Collard 175 points; 2 Norris 168; 3 Ticktum 149; 4 Leist 134; 5 Mitchell 89; 6 Fielding 87; 7 Pull 83; 8 Colton Herta 73; 9 Jack Barlow 66; 10 Martins 59 etc.
Rookie class 1 Ticktum 238; 2 Baybutt 165; 3 Mitchell 151; 4 Martins 140; 5 Florescu 131; 6 Ahmed 122 etc

Qualifying double top for Lando Norris and Carlin at Oulton Park

  • Norris claims his maiden qualifying top spot of the season
  • Best-yet performance also from championship leader Ricky Collard, who takes P2
  • Brazil’s Rafa Martins third on the grid

OULTON PARK 6 JUNE, 2015 – After qualifying in second spot for the first three meetings of the season, 15-year-old Lando Norris went one better at Oulton Park this morning to secure pole position for not one but two of the weekend’s three Ford EcoBoost-powered rounds of the championship.

After dominating yesterday’s timed test sessions, Carlin man Norris found yet more pace when it counted to set a lap time six-tenths of a second better than any of his rivals could achieve. And despite a red flag interrupting the final stages of the session, Lando came out fighting for the final five minutes of qualifying to set the leading second-best time by a margin of one-tenth; he will thus start from top spot in this afternoon’s 10th round and also in Sunday’s Round 12.

“I was a bit caught out by the red flag,” said Lando, “and before that I went off on what was going to be a good lap – just on the grass a little – so obviously I’m pleased to have got two poles. Hopefully I can make a break in the race…”

The red flag – caused by championship newcomer Toby Sowery rotating off the track at Druids, wiping off the front and rear corners of his Fortec machine – destroyed any hopes of Norris’s rivals that they might displace him from pole. Nonetheless Ricky Collard, who will line up P2 both this afternoon and tomorrow, was delighted with his best qualifying showing of the season so far: “What I am really happy about is that I am improving my qualifying performance. It’s been a weakness of mine. My goal was the front row and if I can get a Collard-type start I should be in a strong position because our race pace is good and tyre wear better than most. It’s a difficult track for overtaking and hopefully my experience should count.”

There were season-best qualifying showings also from SWB Motorsport’s Rafael Martins, Carlin man Colton Herta and MBM’s Jack Barlow: third, fourth and sixth respectively. Said Rafa, the leading Rookie class qualifier: “In pre-season testing Oulton Park was my favourite track, and the car is going well. We made some improvements since testing yesterday so it’s all good.”

Barlow nipped into sixth on his penultimate lap: just in time, as his car suffered a rear suspension failure on its final tour. “I felt it go loose and then spun,” said Jack, “but fortunately I just spun on to the grass without hitting anything. It was a shame because I think my last lap would have been my quickest.”

Matheus Leist was fifth fastest for Double R, with Fortec’s Dan Ticktum a disappointed seventh: “Very average. We have some problems with the handling in the first sector of the track. The car is not as I like it and we have some changes to make.”

The top 10 was completed by Sennan Fielding (JHR), Petru Florescu (Carlin) and James Pull (JTR). Pull and Arden’s Enaam Ahmed (16th fastest) will start the first Oulton Park race from further back due to a five-position grid penalty applied to each for driving standards misdemeanours at Thruxton last month.

Sowery recorded a time good enough for 12th before his crash – “Rookie error: the back end got away from me,” said Toby. Richardson Racing’s Louise Richardson battled through with badly blistered hands to 19th place, just ahead of championship newcomer Jess Hawkins (Falcon), who was pleased to be gaining speed with every lap completed.

Round 10 follows at 1420.

Provisional qualifying times Oulton Park 6 June 2015
Grid order for Round 10
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 1:22.143
2 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden 1:22.777
3 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB 1:22.939
4 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin 1:22.968
5 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R 1:23.002
6 Jack BARLOW / GBR / MBM 1:23.075
7 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec 1:23.125
8 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 1:23.201
9 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 1:23.208
10 James PULL* / GBR / JTR 1:23.227
11 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR 1:23.321 etc
*Five-place grid penalty

Round 12 grid order (based on second-fastest times): Norris – Collard – Martins – Herta – Barlow – Leist – Florescu – Ticktum – Pull – Sennan Fielding (JHR) etc

Full times

Ford-powered Lando lands a test-session double at Oulton Park

  • Norris quickest by four-tenths for Carlin in exciting pre-event practice
  • Dan Ticktum runs Norris closest with championship leader Ricky Collard third fastest overall

OULTON PARK 5 JUNE, 2015 – Lando Norris was the pacesetter in both of today’s pre-race weekend MSA Formula test sessions, the Ford EcoBoost-powered Carlin racer ending the day quicker by four-tenths of a second than his closest rival.

Norris adapted quickly to his UK-spec FIA F4 chassis after a weekend at Monza racing in the Italian junior series. The 15-year-old Somerset lad was quickest by 0.188s in the morning and saved his best for the afternoon session to lap the 2.2-mile Cheshire track in 1m 22.238s on fresh Hankook slick tyres.

“I got back into it quite quickly after being in the Italian F4 car,” said Lando. “The cars are very different but it didn’t take long to readjust. I like Oulton Park: I went well here in the wet last year in the Ginetta. We made a few improvements between sessions which worked well.”

Championship leader Ricky Collard ran Norris closest in the morning but had to settle for third-best time in the afternoon behind Norris and Dan Ticktum’s Fortec machine. Said TRS Arden driver Collard: “Our pace on old tyres is really good and I think our long-run pace is good also, but I didn’t quite find that little bit extra on new tyres. I’m going to have a good long sleep on it and will make sure I extract the most from the car in qualifying.”

Colton Herta followed team-mate Norris’s lead, the youngest driver in the field making it two Carlin cars in the top four, ahead of Double R’s Brazilian ace Matheus Leist, with MBM’s Jack Barlow sixth fastest overall.

Carlin’s third man, Romanian Petru Florescu, was next up: “Finally, two good sessions for me. At first I didn’t like this circuit but once I got into a rhythm I was OK with it.”

Rafael Martins (SWB), James Pull (JTR) and Sandy Mitchell (TRS Arden) completed the top 10, with championship debutant Toby Sowery next up for Fortec, just two-hundredths of a second outside the top 10.

Saturday’s schedule is a hectic one for the MSA Formula competitors, with official qualifying in the morning and two races, rounds 10 and 11 of the championship, in the afternoon. The final race of the Oulton weekend follows on Sunday afternoon.

Leading testing times Oulton Park 5 June 2015 (am/pm)
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 1:23.523 / 1:22.238
2 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec 1:23.897 / 1:22.648
3 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden 1:23.711 / 1:22.844
4 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin 1:23.995 / 1:22.943
5 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R 1:23.802 / 1:22.987
6 Jack BARLOW / GBR / MBM 1:24.491 / 1:23.126
7 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 1:23.994 / 1:23.126
8 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB 1:24.508 / 1:23.133
9 James PULL / GBR / JTR 1:24.373 / 1:23.317
10 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden 1:24.165 / 1:23.465 etc

Full times