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

James Pull joins champion team JTR for MSA Formula

  • Fifteen-year-old Tony Kart Racing Team driver switches from karts to cars and picks the EcoBoost experts from JTR to aid his campaign

090115_pulljw9 January, 2015 – Reigning Formula Ford champion team JTR has confirmed the identity of its first driver for the new MSA Formula championship. He is 15-year-old karting star James Pull, who is hoping that JTR’s skill and expertise in getting the most from Ford’s EcoBoost power unit will gain him an advantage when the championship gets underway at Brands Hatch in just under three months time.

Born in Singapore to his Malaysian Chinese mother and British father, James came to the UK in 2012 for education – he attends Hertfordshire’s Haileybury College, following in the wheeltracks of Sir Stirling Moss – and to further his motorsport career, which started aged eight in Singapore.

His karting successes include finishing championship runner-up in the Yamaha SL Cup Malaysia and the Asian Karting Open Championship in 2010 and victory in the Rotax Max Singapore series the following season. Since moving to Europe he has raced in cadets with Emilia Kart and then in KF3/KF-Junior with Chiesa Corse and then the Tony Kart Racing Team, always under the guidance of former Kart World Champion Oliver Oakes. In 2014 he was invited to join the McLaren Performance Academy, from which he graduated in December of last year.

KSP-James-Pull-La-ConcaJames is looking forward to the challenges presented by his switch to cars: “I am really excited to be joining JTR for the 2015 MSA Formula season. JTR drivers have won the British Formula Ford Championship for the past three years, and I am looking forward to working with Nick Tandy and the team. I am going to be working very hard between now and the first race at Brands Hatch in April to make sure that I am as fit and as competitive as possible.”

Team boss Tandy is hopeful of good things to come from his young charge: “James tested with JTR a few times at the end of last year and on the back of that we are delighted he will be joining us in the team. His preparation and commitment to starting his racing career in 2015 meant he was top of our list for winter testing and he didn’t disappoint. We have a solid test plan based around his schooling commitments so I’m sure we’ll be ready to go at Brands Hatch.” To James’s racing manager, Jon Bishop, JTR looks to be the perfect team: “We looked at the team last season and were very impressed with its history working with both the chassis and engine. In addition to this the whole environment was perfect for James. I am confident that JTR will be competitive, and Nick is a talented driver himself and a good guy for James to look up to as he continues in his development.”

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.