Drivers interested in competing in the 2010 Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain visited Silverstone last week for the series' annual Sampler Day, which gave them the first chance to test the new Formula Ford EcoBoost and meet prospective teams.
Top teams Jamun, JTR. Myerscough College, Engima/Rendez-Vous Racing, Getem, Fluid and RaySport were all in attendance, giving tests to a range of experienced Formula Ford racers and single-seater newcomers. Reigning series champion Scott Malvern was in attendance, continuing his development work for the next car.
Malvern said: “The EcoBoost is quite a bit different now to how it was when I first drove it. We've had some good test days and made a lot of progress. For example, the throttle is now much more controllable and the car is now nice under power. There are a few tweaks still to come to make it a bit more comfortable for a new driver.
“The EcoBoost is definitely much easier to drive than a Duratec car, for a new kid coming in, and that is a good thing. It's also going to make it a lot harder for the guys at the front to find the extra time, which will keep things close. The Duratec was hard to drive, so a driver really on top of his game could get an advantage, whereas the EcoBoost with its sequential 'box and superior levels of grip will make that harder. It's definitely not lost the Formula Ford feel, though.”
18 year old Jake Cook used the day to try out the EcoBoost chassis for the first time and was impressed. Signing with Jamun Racing, Cook has signalled his intention to battle for the GB title and Eurocup honours in 2012. Cook said: “I really enjoyed the experience. The new car seems a lot better than the old one, with loads more grip, and it looks great.”
Australian Jack Le Brocq, the runner up in this year's Australian Formula Ford Championship, was in action too. The 19 year old, who has just secured a spot in the FIA Institue Young Driver Excellence Academy for 2012, is close to finalising a deal to race in the UK next season.
Le Brocq said: “I think it's a really good car. The way the chassis and the tyres work together give it a lot of grip, and I like the sequential gearbox: it's good experience for the categories a driver will come to further on in his career. I'm hoping to get my deal sorted out soon and then start to think about testing and learning the car and all the new circuits.”
Over twenty drivers were in action at the Sampler Day, testing not only the EcoBoost car but also the older Duratec chassis. Amongst them were Scottish Formula Ford 1600 Champion Kenneth Thirlwall, Ginetta Junior race-winner Sennan Fielding, Formula Ford 1600 racer Alex Drabble and karting graduates George Blundell, Fred Martin-Dye and Laura Tillett. Reigning Scholarship Cup winner Cavan Corcoran was also in action, the teenager driving the EcoBoost car for the first time as he aims to put the budget together for next season.
Championship promoter RacingLine's Sam Roach concluded: “It was a really worthwhile day for everyone who took part. It was the first opportunity for several drivers to go behind the wheel of the new Formula Ford car and I know that it impressed all who sampled it.”