Pull leads the way in Ford MSA Formula pre-race test at Donington Park

  • James Pull heads incredibly evenly matched Ford EcoBoost-powered field.
  • Alex Quinn and Luis Leeds at the front of the chasing pack.

DONINGTON PARK 14 APRIL, 2016 – Carlin’s James Pull topped the times in Ford British F4’s pre-race test at Donington Park today, just as he did at the Brands Hatch opener a fortnight ago. He headed a super-close field where the top 15 drivers were covered by just a second.

Fresh from a hat-trick of podiums at the season opener, Pull was fifth fastest in the morning and let loose in the afternoon, posting the quickest time of 1:08.195 halfway through the session.

It was a time that left Pull over three tenths clear of the field, but Fortec Motorsports’ Alex Quinn and TRS Arden’s Luis Leeds hit back in the final minutes to see them finish second and third fastest respectively, with Quinn just over a tenth off of Pull.

Said Pull: “I really enjoy driving this circuit and it’s my favourite on the calendar. We hooked up a great lap. There’s still more in the bag, but it felt really good and I’m very happy.

“It’s all about getting in the groove at Donington. Finding a rhythm, staying smooth and not overdriving. The goal is to get the win this weekend. Qualifying will be tense. I just need to stay calm and focus.”

Quinn added: “I think we are quick enough to be fastest. In the second session I was really improving towards the end and the chequered flag came just too soon. I learnt loads at Brands and now it’s time to put it into action.”

Said TRS Arden team manager Ben Bloomfield of Leeds’ performance: “It was disappointing that Luis got held up in traffic at the end of his run, but from the sector times we know that we’ve got the pace in the car. He’s already feeling quite confident which is very impressive given that he’s never driven around this circuit before.”

An entertaining morning session saw the track move from wet to dry and it was Quinn who grabbed the attention by topping the times, but only just. JHR’s Sennan Fielding was less than three thousandths of a second away from the Racing Steps Foundation backed driver.

All drivers improved upon their morning’s best efforts thanks to far better track conditions, but Fielding was the exception to the rule due to technical problems.

TRS Arden’s Rafael Martins found himself third quickest in the morning and ended the day fifth fastest overall. “We were quick this morning”, said Martins. “I think a P2 or P3 grid slot is possible. We’ll obviously aim for pole, but James Pull was very fast today. We’ll look at the data to try to find something extra for qualifying and I’m sure our race pace will be even stronger.”

Harry Hayek was another who seemed to revel in the morning’s variable conditions ending up seventh and just dropping outside of the top ten by the time the chequered flag fell on the test, with his Jamun team-mate Jamie Caroline finishing several places ahead of him.

Said Hayek: “It’s been an up and down day. The first session was wet and then it was drying. We were right up there. In the second session we struggled a bit, but we’ll look at the data and aim to break into the top ten in qualifying.”

Championship leader Petru Florescu had a relatively quiet day in tenth, but after his emphatic performance just two weeks ago, it’s hard to believe that there’s not plenty more pace up the Romanian’s sleeve.

It was a premature end to the day for Patrik Matthiesen who brought out the red flags with 20 minutes remaining after beaching his car in the gravel at Coppice. Nevertheless, the Dane was quick early on suggesting he’s capable of bringing home his first points of the season.

With the field so evenly matched, everyone is eagerly awaiting qualifying at 1100 on Saturday and for the lights go out in the first of the weekend’s three races at 1500.

Leading testing times Donington Park 14 April, 2016 (am/pm)
1 James PULL / GBR / Carlin 1:09.297 / 1:08.195
2 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec 1:08.966 / 1:08.337
3 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden 1:09.205 / 1:08.407
4 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin 1:09.515 / 1:08.571
5 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / Arden 1:09.085 / 1:08.674
6 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin 1:09.813 / 1:08.773
7 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R 1:09.448 / 1:08.792
8 Jack MARTIN / GBR / Arden 1:10.537 / 1:08.827
9 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Jamun 1:09.982 / 1:08.891
10 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 1:09.625 / 1:08.926 etc.

Full times

Torque Speed – Driver reaction from Donington Park Ford MSA Formula test

  • Fewtrell revelling in Ford British F4 experience and eager for first race of the season.
  • Goddard ecstatic with level of consistency.
  • Quinn enjoys highly productive day behind the wheel.

22 March, 2016 – After another enthralling collective pre-season test for the Ford EcoBoost-powered series, here are the thoughts of the drivers who topped the times.

The man who grabbed the Donington Park test headlines and top spot was Carlin’s Max Fewtrell:

“In the morning session I was just trying to find my feet because I hadn’t driven around the track for about five months.

“After lunch we looked at some data, made use of some new tyres and were straight on the pace right away which was really encouraging.

“It was very important to build up the temperature in the Hankook tyres properly to get the best lap time and not grain them straight away.

“I’m loving the car. I’m loving all the testing we are doing and I cannot wait for the first race.

“I feel really close to everyone in team and I’m enjoying working with everyone at Carlin. It really is a brilliant team.

“Hopefully we can maintain this momentum into the Rockingham test and beyond.”

A buoyant Zane Goddard finished the test second quickest. He was keen to underline the positives that both he and his Double R Racing team could take from away from Donington:

“We wanted to complete as many laps as possible and then see what we were capable of in the latter part of the test. The point of the day was to make sure everything with the car is in perfect order and that I fully understand the track.

“The car felt good and the team has done well. It’s now all about the little details which will no doubt make the difference with the field so close.

“P2 is a good result, although I would obviously like to go forward one more position, but we’ll hopefully do that when it really matters.

“Our consistency has been fantastic. It’s been really strong and that’s a major positive for us to take away from the Donington as we head to Rockingham. I’m really looking forward to seeing how we get on at that circuit.”

Third fastest man was Fortec Motorsports’ Racing Steps Foundation backed Alex Quinn who put into words what was a very enjoyable day behind the wheel of his Ford British F4 racer:

“The test went really well. I really enjoyed the Donington Park circuit. The first sector especially with the downhill element and Craner Curves.

“It took a little while to get the tyres in the zone, but we worked hard to prepare them properly.

“We did a lot of work with Sodemo in the morning, running the engine at 75 per cent to test some new sensors, but the Ford EcoBoost engine proved as reliable as ever.

“Then in the afternoon we really pushed the car which was a lot of fun.

“I’m really looking forward to the next test at Rockingham. It’s where the Racing Steps Foundation shootout took place so it brings back a lot of happy memories for me.”

You can find out how Alex Quinn and his Ford British F4 comrades will fare at Rockingham both today and tomorrow as the final collective test sessions of pre-season get underway.

Fewtrell fires warning shot in Ford MSA Formula test

  • 16 year-old Carlin driver Max Fewtrell quickest at Donington Park circuit.
  • Top 10 drivers covered by less than a second.

16 March, 2016 – The second collective Ford British F4 test of the season at Donington Park was a thrilling tale of two halves. Jamie Caroline lit up the timing screens throughout the morning; whilst Messrs Quinn, Goddard and Fewtrell stole the plaudits in the afternoon. The latter storming his way to the quickest time of the test.

Jamun Racing’s Jamie Caroline was the unquestionable star of the morning session, going fastest with a time of 1:07.866. He was the only driver to break into the 1:07s; clearly putting his previous experience at the circuit from Ginetta Juniors to good use. However, the Pirtek Racing and Keltbray backed driver’s morning time was only good enough for fourth when the chequered flag fell at the end of the day.

Max Fewtrell dominated much of the afternoon session. In the final 10 minutes he used a set of new tyres to stamp his authority all over proceedings with a 1:07.391. A time that was quicker than the 2015 Donington Park MSA Formula pole lap and a clear signal that both he and reigning champions Carlin will be a force to be reckoned with in 2016.

Fewtrell was also one of the test’s biggest improvers following a quiet morning which saw him lie seventh at the lunch break. Yet the driver who progressed the most in terms of sheer lap time was Fortec Motorsports’ Frank Bird who improved upon his best morning time by over a second and a half.

Bird’s teammate Alex Quinn shone throughout. The Racing Steps Foundation driver clearly revelling in the cold conditions at the circuit. The 15 year-old dropped to third with just four minutes remaining as Double R Racing’s Zane Goddard swooped in with a 1:07.719, claiming second just as he did at Brands Hatch several weeks ago.

Although Goddard once again missed out on the bragging rights, his tally of 190 laps for the day was second only to TRS Arden’s Jack Martin on 196. Both drivers demonstrating the sheer reliability of both the 1.6 litre Ford EcoBoost engine and the Mygale chassis.

Ford British F4 heads to Rockingham on Tuesday 22 March for its next collective test.

Testing times Donington Park 16/03/16 (am/pm)

1 Max FEWTRELL / GBR Carlin / Ford British F4-EcoBoost / 1:08.284 / 1:07.391

2 Zane GODDARD / AUS Double R / Ford British F4-EcoBoost / 1:08.166 / 1:07.719

3 Alex QUINN / GBR Fortec / Ford British F4-EcoBoost / 1:08.465 / 1:07.818  

4 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR Jamun / Ford British F4-EcoBoost / 1:07.866 / 1:07.912

5 Sennan FIELDING / GBR JHR / Ford British F4-EcoBoost / 1:08.171 / 1:07.896

6 James PULL / GBR Carlin / Ford British F4-EcoBoost / 1:08.033 / 1:07.966

7 Rafael MARTINS / BRA Arden / Ford British F4-EcoBoost / 1:08.039 / 1:08.048

8 Devlin DeFRANCESCO / CAN Carlin / Ford British F4-EcoBoost / 1:08.806 / 1:08.078

9 Ross MARTIN / GBR Fortec / Ford British F4-EcoBoost / 1:08.141 / 1:08:303

10 Billy MONGER / GBR JHR / Ford British F4-EcoBoost / 1:08.464 / 1:08.160 etc.

Full TSL timesheets


Racing Steps Foundation: Quinn wins RSF MSA Formula seat

Alex Quinn / Racing Steps Foundation

Report supplied by RSF

RACING STEPS FOUNDATION NEWS, 6 NOVEMBER, 2015 – Multiple British kart champion Alex Quinn has won Racing Steps Foundation backing to make the step up from karts to cars in the 2016 MSA Formula Championship.

The CRG factory driver from Camelford, Cornwall, scooped the fully-funded drive at the end of a three day, 10-driver assessment staged by the not-for-profit Foundation last month.

The rigorous evaluation – conducted by RSF co-ordinator Derek Walters in conjunction with iZone, Porsche Human Performance Centre and Fortec Motorsports – involved psychometric and simulator tests, a comprehensive physiological assessment and a day’s on-track evaluation at Rockingham.

Quinn – who picked up the racing bug from one-time, amateur rally driver dad Sam – will race in the British Touring Cars support series with Fortec. Quinn’s winter test programme gets underway later this month.

“Alex impressed the entire team of assessors with his all-round capabilities,” said RSF co-ordinator Derek Walters. “His times on the simulator and in the MSA Formula car at Rockingham were competitive from the word go and not so far off the datum set by one of our more senior drivers. Considering it was his first time in a single-seater, his feedback and set-up understanding were impressive too. It will be a tough championship for Alex to cut his teeth on but we’ll give him all the support he needs to hit the ground running.”

Racing Steps Foundation backs MSA Formula

  • Three talented British drivers to go head-to-head in RSF evaluation to win backing for their future track careers

3 April, 2015 – The Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship today takes an important step forward in the promotion of young British motorsport talent with the announcement of a new collaboration with the Racing Steps Foundation.

At the end of this, its inaugural season, three British MSA Formula drivers will be selected and included to undergo a multi-disciplinary Racing Steps Foundation-led evaluation with selected other competitors, the winner of which will join the RSF’s impressive roster of driving talent, receiving a fully funded and supported entry for the next step of his or her racing career.

The RSF, which has invested heavily in British motorsport in recent years, will monitor and assess candidates throughout the season, in conjunction with Ford, the MSA (British motor sport’s governing body), media and championship officials. “We feel the time is right to look for a new, talented UK driver to join the RSF ranks, and that MSA Formula is the perfect recruiting ground for us,” said RSF founder Graham Sharp. “Since the demise of InterSteps, the UK has lacked a championship like this, to find and develop new British talent. As this is the Racing Steps Foundation’s raison d’être too, we are delighted to be able to lend our support.”

The RSF, a private, not-for-profit fund that provides and finances competition and performance development programmes for an elite group of British single-seater drivers, has worked in partnership with the MSA for the past six years to fund and support innovative training, mentoring and development programmes such as the MSA Academy and MSA Performance Master Classes. The Foundation is now entering into a multi-layered support initiative for MSA Formula, lining up alongside the MSA itself, Ford and the FIA to further develop the most exciting championship in British single-seater racing for many years.

Welcoming the RSF’s increased involvement with the championship, MSA chief executive Rob Jones said: “The Racing Steps Foundation has supported the work of the MSA Academy over the past six years and this has enabled the governing body to take a leading role in the learning and development of young drivers. It has resulted in a world-leading structure and a programme that has delivered great benefit throughout the sport, not just with those who have gone on to reach professional levels. We have been greatly assisted by the RSF in our drive to raise standards across the sport and we welcome the Foundation’s involvement in MSA Formula.”

Gerard Quinn, head of racing for Ford Performance in Europe, said: “Ford has a history of helping professional drivers launch their careers through their first step into car racing in Formula Ford over the past four decades. The transition into MSA Formula only strengthens our resolve to continue this proud tradition. The welcome involvement of the Racing Steps Foundation in this partnership with the MSA and the FIA is a very credible addition to this commitment.”

The selection criteria for the RSF-led assessment will include not only results on track but also the driver’s approach, professionalism and determination to climb to the top of the international motorsports ladder, despite lacking the funds and mentoring needed to get there. It is not a given that the top three British drivers in the championship will automatically be put forward to the evaluation.

In addition to its search for a new talent to join its ranks, the RSF will again be working with the MSA Academy and the championship to deliver a world-leading talent development programme through MSA qualified coaches and accredited professionals to help all the MSA Formula drivers understand what it takes to become a leading athlete and to maximise their potential.

The RSF’s further involvement with MSA Formula for the coming season centres on the career development of 15-year-old Josh Smith, the reigning IAME X30 international kart champion, who will contest the Ford EcoBoost-powered and FIA-certified championship with the Fortec Motorsports team.

Kart champion Josh Smith & RSF join MSA Formula with Fortec

  • Fifteen-year-old Racing Steps Foundation driver is the first Fortec driver confirmation for coming season of MSA Formula
Josh Smith

Josh Smith (Chris Walker/Kartpix)

9 February, 2015 – Racing Steps Foundation driver Josh Smith, 15, is the latest to announce his participation in MSA Formula 2015. The reigning IAME X30 international kart champion from Arnside, Cumbria, will contest the Ford EcoBoost-powered and FIA-certified Formula 4 championship with the Fortec Motorsports team.

“It’s a really exciting challenge for me,” said Smith, who has raced international KFJ class karts with RSF backing for the past two years. “Last year in karting was a pretty frustrating one which thankfully I managed to end on a high with the IAME X30 title. The aim now is to put that difficult year behind me and focus on doing the best job I can for me and the RSF. I’ll be racing with a top team and will hopefully be able to show what I’m really capable of.”

Racing Steps Foundation founder Graham Sharp added: “It will be a tough championship for Josh to cut his teeth on with so many established Formula Ford drivers and top karters lined up for seats on the grid. But Josh showed last year that he has the grit and determination to dig deep and perform even when the odds are stacked against him. With Fortec – which has a superb reputation for bringing on youngsters in junior formulae – the hope is that Josh will be able to hit the ground running.”

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.

The Racing Steps Foundation is a private, not-for-profit fund that provides and finances competition and performance development programmes for young British racing drivers and motorcycle racers. The backing is provided for those with the exceptional talent and determination needed to climb to the top of the international motorsports ladder but who have neither the funds nor the all-important management and mentoring needed to get there.

In 2015 five drivers and two bike riders will race in UK, European and International race series with RSF backing.