Niall Murray has expressed his excitement ahead of the upcoming Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy following a successful debut campaign in Irish Formula Ford.
The former Ginetta Junior race-winner embarked on his maiden season in single-seater racing this year, competing in both the Irish and Northern Irish Formula Ford 1600 Championships.
Running with his family Murray Motorsport outfit, the 18 year old defied his lack of single-seater experience to enjoy a hugely positive campaign.
A regular podium visitor from the off, the highlight of his season so far came with a maiden victory at Kirkistown in August.
“It’s been a great debut season for us. It’s been my first season driving a single-seater, and the team’s first time running one, so it was a very, very steep learning curve for all of us,” Murray told TCF.
“We did about fourteen races during the season and other than one DNF, my worst result was fifth. I was the most consistent driver over the season in that respect, and I’m really delighted with my results.
“It particular it was great to get a win. I’ve now won at least one race in every class that I’ve raced in, which I’m delighted about.”
For Murray, after three years racing Ginetta Juniors – a title-winning Irish campaign in 2010 followed by two years in the BTCC-supporting series – the move to Formula Ford brought with it a different driving style to learn.
“The single-seater is a lot different to drive than a Ginetta G40. The power is similar, but the Ford is about half the weight, so it’s a lot faster. It took a lot of time to get used to it and get comfortable in it.”
Murray now hopes to end his season on a high with strong performances in the upcoming Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone.
The Dubliner feels his schooling in the Irish series gives him a good chance of success.
“When the top Irish guys come over to the UK to race, they win. Generally Ireland is a stepping stone before moving to the UK, but in Formula Ford it’s not, Irish Formula Ford 1600 is one of the most competitive classes around.
“I am really looking forward to the events. I’ve got experience of the tracks before from Ginetta’s, and having won in Ireland, I’m hoping to go well.”
Murray’s plan for 2014 is a return to the Irish championship, with a title challenge in his sights.
“It was the same as I planned with Ginetta Juniors, it’s always a two-year step. It’s tough to jump into something and win straight away, so I’ve learnt this year, got my experience, and next year I want to be fighting for the championship.”