The Silverstone National Circuit was the scene for another pre-season test, with the preparations well underway for the start of the championship, which starts in just five weeks’ time. Seven of the teams that are entering the championship include the reigning driver and team champions, Jamun, as well as close rivals JTR , who both had the new EcoBoost-powered Mygale cars. But testing would be somewhat delayed by low-lying thick fog covering the Northamptonshire track.
But when conditions had significantly improved, 18-year-old Jake Cook from Rotherham, driving Jamun’s EcoBoost, set about his first set of laps in the new car, and his first impression of the new car was a great addition: “I like the new car, it's good fun and, driver-wise, it's not too different to the Duratec, the turbo obviously gives you something else to think about and we'll probably be left-foot braking now. Overall, though, it's not too different to get used to.”
He also gave an optimistic view on his title chances, having been racing in the series for the last couple of years, and does fel that understanding the new car will be a key part of his assault on the title: “I want to win as many races as possible this year. We've had a couple of hard years, so I'm just glad to be back out racing and hopefully in with a chance of the championship. We've got pretty much a test a week until the start of the season and we've obviously got no data for the new car, so the testing is going to be more important than ever.”
Ecuador’s 2-time national karting champion, Julio Moreno, has relocated to Oxford at the tender age of 16, to make his first step into single-seater racing, joining JTR for his rookie season, and has a very busy campaign this year: “We have a
deal to do the British championship, the EuroCup and the Festival, too. Single-seaters is my dream so we're hoping for a great year with Nick [Tandy] and JTR. I really like the car and I can't wait for the championship to start.”
Young French driver, Matt Rao, from Toulouse, returns after competing for just over half a season of Formula Ford last year, but has aimed high for 2012, being partnered alongside newcomer Alex Drabble in the Fluid Motorsport outfit, and hopes that renowned driver coach Malcolm Smith will be able to help the 17-year-old’s assault on the title. But in his first time out in the new car, the young French hopeful was full of optimism, and has realistic ambitions for the future: “I like the new car, it's more of a serious racing car than the previous one and as soon as Fluid's is ready we'll be back out for more testing before the season. I came to motorsport quite late but I understand what it takes – you have to have the talent and the funding. My aim is to be in F1, either as a driver or an engineer, so I've also applied to study motorsport engineering.”
Drabble, however, was driving one of the previous-generation Duratec-engined cars, using a Van Diemen LA11, with his first season in modern day single-seater racing, having been racing a Merkyn Mk VI with his father in historics, but is looking forward to the challenge that Formula Ford provides, and hopes to do well: “We're taking things as they come, though: we need to build up gradually and try to get the best results we can as more and more experience comes. We've got testing every week now until the first race; I'm trying to get more at one with the car every time we are out and I really am loving it.”
Australian Olly Rae and Briton Fred Martin-Dye, who are running with Enigma Motorsport, also ran at the test session, with the latter making his return to racing following a four-year absence. He has only just completed his mechanical engineering degree at Bath University, with today being his third time behind the wheel of a Formula Ford, having shown great promise as one of the UK’s highly-ranked young kart racers.
Swiss-based and Mexican-born teenager Fabian Welter was getting accustomed to his Mygale-Duratec car, which is being run by Rendevous Racing, as the 16-year-old will only compete during a planned part-season this year. Charles Anti, who relocated to Lichfield from Pittsburgh, also returns to racing after a four-year hiatus following educational commitments, but he has built up a strong wealth of experience from racing in the USA, having won the Skip Barber Nationals in 2005, and moving to the Skip Barber Star Mazda Pro Series. However, the American decided to come to the UK to test himself, as here is where the world’s emerging racing talent from all corners of the globe show their skills, and for those that make it, it is a sounding board for their futures, but Anti says what attracted him to Formula Ford: “Formula Ford in the UK is one of the most competitive series in the world, probably the most cost-effective, and they were the two things we were looking for, so I sold my Star Mazda and just managed to buy the Ford in the nick of time. It's going to be a really interesting year for us, we'll do the best we can – the aim is to not embarrass ourselves.”