Sandy Mitchell claims his maiden MSA Formula race victory with Ford EcoBoost power

  • Despite a slow start from the pole, TRS Arden driver Sandy Mitchell battles through to take a first win at the wheel of a car
  • Matheus Leist overcomes his lack of Thruxton knowledge to claim an impressive second, with Dan Baybutt making the overall podium for the first time

THRUXTON 9 MAY, 2015 – After dominating qualifying, 15-year-old Scottish track star Sandy Mitchell showed similar impressive style this afternoon at Thruxton to claim his maiden win at the wheel of a racing car. Sandy’s Ford EcoBoost-powered and TRS Arden-prepared machine took over at the sharp end of round seven of the MSA Formula Championship at mid-distance, fighting back after an indifferent start to beat Brazil’s Matheus Leist to the line by a second and a half.

It nearly all went wrong for Rookie racer Mitchell on the startline when he misjudged his getaway and threw away pole advantage, slipping to third behind Leist’s Double R car and the JHR Developments machine of Sennan Fielding. “I got too much wheelspin because I got the clutch position a bit wrong,” he said. “But I knew I had the pace and I was pretty sure that I’d be able to come through…”

Mitchell was awarded a breathing space to regroup and plan his attack when the safety car came on track at the end of the opening lap while stranded cars were retrieved from the circuit. At the restart on lap six he pounced on Fielding up Woodham Hill to secure second and then next time around seized the lead from Leist through Church.

Matheus, who had never seen Thruxton let alone driven it before today’s qualifying session, kept well in touch with Mitchell to the end but had no answer to Sandy’s speed. “It was hard because I had never been here before, no testing,” said the Brazilian. “I took P3 in qualifying, which was good, and this second place in the race is like a victory for me, it’s fantastic.”

Mitchell was similarly delighted: “This is my first win in a car, it’s very special, and a bit of a relief as well because I haven’t been getting the results I had hoped for. Hopefully now I can push on and win some more.”

The four-lap safety car interruption was brought about by a first-lap tangle involving several cars, including those of Petru Florescu (Carlin), Tarun Reddy (Double R) and Ameya Vaidyanathan. Separately, Ameya’s JTR team-mate James Pull also went off. The third JTR machine, of Dan Baybutt, survived the fracas. He said: “I got hit on the back corner and hit on the front corner, and it knocked my tracking out. I was lucky to get round and I was struggling a bit with understeer on some corners after that…”

There were plenty more dramas played out behind the leaders before flag fall, with Fielding’s third place coming under increasing pressure from Carlin man Lando Norris, culminating in a penultimate-lap clash between the two which led to Sennan’s retirement, a serious delay for Norris and a promotion to third place and his first overall podium for Baybutt.

After dropping as low as seventh with three laps to go, Hampshire hero Ricky Collard blasted through the mayhem to claim fourth at the line. “I made an average start and got pushed down the order a bit, but had the pace at the end to come through,” said Ricky, whose result helps him narrow his points deficit to championship leader Dan Ticktum to 21.

Ticktum enjoyed a better race than he did qualifying: his mysterious lack of pace in timed practice, which left his Fortec machine 17th on the grid, was diagnosed as a loose fire extinguisher rubbing on the ignition system. Dan’s rejuvenated car battled through to seventh by the end of the race, behind fifth-placed Colton Herta (Carlin) and Rafa Martins (SWB). Enaam Ahmed, who profited massively from the first-lap misfortunes of others to gain eight places, made it three Arden cars in the top eight.

Darius Karbaley hit the top 10 for the first time, racing to ninth for Falcon Motorsport, with Norris recovering from his late clash to finish 10th ahead of the cars of Jack Barlow, Louise Richardson, Jack Butel and Ollie Pidgley. Josh Smith completed the finishing order after losing time with a pit stop.

Racing resumes at Thruxton tomorrow, Sunday, with the reverse-grid race (which will see Ticktum starting from the pole) at 1045 and the MSA Formula finale live on ITV4 at 1515.

Provisional results Round 7, Thruxton, 9 May 2015
13 laps / 30.63 miles
1 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden 20m 54.035s / 87.92mph
2 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R +1.533s
3 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR +7.873s
4 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden +8.015s
5 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +10.602s
6 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB +10.960s
7 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec +11.822s
8 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden +12.133s
9 Darius KARBALEY / GBR / Falcon +13.489s
10 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin +14.047s etc

Fastest lap Mitchell 1m 14.172s / 114.35mph Est Rec

Rookie class 1 Mitchell, 2 Baybutt, 3 Martins, 4 Ticktum, 5 Ahmed, 6 Darius KARBALEY / GBR / Falcon, 7 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec/

Full results

Provisional championship standings
1 Ticktum 120 points; 2 Collard 99; 3 Leist 83; 4 James Pull 77; 5 Norris 75; 6 Jack Barlow 46 etc
Rookie class 1 Ticktum 171; 2 Baybutt 116; 3 Ahmed 73, 4 Mitchell 71; 5 Smith 65; 6 Petru Florescu 59 etc

Collard bids to lead home the Ford-powered MSA Formula racers at Thruxton

  • Hampshire driver Ricky hoping for home-track advantage as he bids to improve his qualifying performance and bag more EcoBoost race wins
  • Daniel Ticktum leads championship and Rookie class after solid start to his maiden season of racing

2 May, 2015 – After scoring one race win and a hat-trick of podium finishes in the opening two meetings of the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship season, Hampshireman Ricky Collard is ready to step up his performances next weekend (9/10 May) at his home circuit of Thruxton.

The 18-year-old Eversley-based TRS Arden driver has been one of the consistently quick drivers, not once in six races finishing outside the top six, and knows exactly where he needs to improve if he is to displace his 15-year-old rival Dan Ticktum as the consistent race winner. “I just haven’t extracted the most from myself in qualifying: I have been too aggressive on the tyres and that has compromised my performance,” says Ricky, son of BTCC racer Rob Collard.

“Aggression has paid off for me in the races – that’s why I have managed to come through the field to finish well, because of my aggression. I have no problem in fighting my way through in the races, but if I can improve in qualifying and start more races from the front, then I can finish more races at the front.”

Collard was pleased with his performance in pre-event testing at Thruxton, where he ended the day third fastest overall behind championship leader Ticktum and TRS Arden driver Sandy Mitchell, and also with the way his 1.6-litre turbocharged Ford EcoBoost engine has performed: “The engine has been great because they are all so equally balanced across the field; no-one has a power advantage and the reliability has been excellent. Testing went well for me at Thruxton and I am going there with the expectation of winning. I am not looking for a top-five finish; I am there purely to win. It adds a bit more pressure, but it’s great to have a home race, because all my sponsors, family and friends will be there.”

It is Fortec driver Ticktum who has the championship momentum; he leads Collard by a handsome 27 points after executing two impeccable pole-to-flag wins at Donington Park last month. Ticktum, new to car racing this year, is so far unbeaten in the championship’s rookie class.

With four different winners in the opening six races, Ford’s new MSA Formula has got away to a spectacularly competitive and exciting start, not least because four of those Ford EcoBoost-powered races have been won by super-talented 15-year-olds. Carlin man Lando Norris is the other double winner thanks to his successes at Brands Hatch in early April but, after a middling time at Donington, Lando is only fourth in the championship and is looking to regain lost ground.

The other race winner is Double R’s exciting 16-year-old Brazilian talent Matheus Leist, who romped away with the Donington reverse-grid race from the pole to mark himself down as one to watch. With three podiums under his belt, JTR’s James Pull is looking like a contender for race victory soon, with his team-mate Dan Baybutt not far behind and shaping up to be Ticktum’s chief rival for rookie class honours.

MBM’s Jack Barlow has some less than fond memories of Thruxton – it was there a year ago that he crashed in Formula Ford testing and brought a premature end to his season. He’s bounced back well from injury and the disappointment, however, and two fourth-place MSA Formula finishes suggest he will be a podium visitor soon.

JHR Developments driver Sennan Fielding was a Donington podium man and has been quick at every circuit so far visited, including Thruxton, where he topped one of last month’s test sessions. The other championship top-10 men are Colton Herta, youngest in the field and showing signs of steady improvement as he gets to grips with his Carlin machine, and Leist’s team-mate and countryman, Gustavo Myasava, who has proved spectacular on occasion.

Collard will not be the only Hampshire driver in action next weekend: 17-year-old Ollie Pidgley, from Downton, made his debut at Donington and will return at Thruxton with Richardson Racing, alongside Louise Richardson. Louise, the only non-teenager in the field, should be one to watch as she gains experience with the MSA Formula chassis.

Arden team-mates Sandy Mitchell and Enaam Ahmed are closely matched in speed and results so far – and came rather too close to each other at Donington – and both undoubtedly have the speed to get on terms with the frontrunners before long, and the same is more than true of Ticktum’s Fortec running mate, Josh Smith, who is backed by the Racing Steps Foundation.

SWB Motorsport’s Rafael Martins impressed with his pace at Brands Hatch but spent more time off the track at Donington than on it… If the Brazilian can keep his head next weekend he will be at or near the front. The championship top 15 is completed by Double R’s Tarun Reddy, who is one of two Indian drivers in the series, the other being JTR’s Ameya Vaidyanathan. Falcon’s Darius Karbaley has been a steady rookie improver, as has Carlin’s Romanian talent Petru Florescu, with Jerseyman Jack Butel settling in well at SWB Motorsport.

Thruxton timetable
Saturday 9 May 1100 Qualifying; 1500 Race 1
Sunday 10 May 1045 Race 2; 1515 Race 3

On TV Live ITV4 & itv.com/btcc Sunday 1515

Event details & tickets thruxtonracing.co.uk