Posts Tagged ‘formula ford’

Last weekend saw me finally delve into the world of V8 Supercars; a series which up until now I’ve known has existed but never paid too much attention too.

However last weekend saw the series arrive in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, for the Armor All Gold Coast 600. Now for those of you who don’t know anything about the race, let me explain.

The Gold Coast 600 is split into two races over the weekend, both 300km (102 laps) long. Each team must hire a driver with an ‘international reputation’ for the weekend to complete at least one third of the distance in both races.

For this year’s event most of the drivers hired came from the IndyCar or World Touring Car Championship series with a few former F1 drivers popping up too.

Jacques Villeneuve, Mika Salo, Alain Menu, Alex Tagliani, Helio Castroneves, Fabrizio Giovanardi, Gianni Morbidelli, Sebastien Bourdais, Yvan Muller were all there along with Britain’s Andy Priaulx and Dario Franchitti.

Quite a line up.

Intrigued by this event I looked to find coverage of the race back in England but alas was unable to until I found the full race coverage on YouTube. And what a spectacle.

Although there are only two manufacturers, Ford and Holden, the racing was so close with every position being fought over for lap after lap.

The start of Saturday’s race really shows how dramatic a V8 Supercar opening lap can be as the international drivers vied for position on the tight, coastal circuit.

But what I was impressed with after this incident, and in the Sunday race, was the close but fair racing. In Britain we love the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) for its no holds barred racing where drivers rub door handles, tap and nudge their way through.

All very exciting, and I for one am a massive fan of that. But ‘down under’ contact seems to be at a premium, especially on a track like Surfers Paradise where one touch could send a competitor into the wall.

There are still the occasional incidents involving some drivers but that’s only natural, especially on a street circuit. Just ask David Brabham.

But for me the real stand out of the Gold Coast 600 were the last 30 laps or so of race two, which saw reigning champion Jamie Whincup fight off 21-year-old New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen to take the win.

Although Whincup ultimately held on, the performance of the Kiwi impressed me so much. He may not have won a race in the V8 Supercar series yet, but currently lies sixth in the drivers’ standings. His performance over the weekend, fighting from 13th to third in race one and hounding the reigning champion in race two shows a real talent and great promise.

Van Gisbergen, right, is turning into a real star

After competing in karts and motocross up to 2004, he came third in the 2004/5 Formula First Championship New Zealand, an open-wheel series similar to Formula Ford. The following year he won the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship before finishing runner up in the 2006/7 Toyota Racing Series.

Since then he’s been a regular in the V8 Supercars. Although he is still looking for his first win his rise has been rapid and he’s now knocking on the door to take to the top step of the podium for the first time.

If you want an idea of how good this kid is, the last few laps of the Gold Coast 600 sum him up better than anything I can write.

It’s only a matter of time and I for one will be following the V8 Supercars and him particularly, with a keen eye.

Image from Flickr: crgphotography

We moved only a couple of hundred yards during the lunch break, to the over bridge on the climb up towards McLeans.

The first race after lunch was the Formula Ford Championship which again provided plenty of overtaking and drama, however a lot of the drama was out of sight for us. This race saw a familiar racing name and helmet take to the Donington circuit as Josh Hill, son of Damon and grandson of Graham lined up on the grid.

Josh Hill heads round on the warm up lap for the second Formula Ford race

It’s always been ambition of mine to see that famous blue helmet with the white ores take part in a race, however truth be told I’d have preferred it to be Damon as he was the driver in Formula 1 I followed when growing up. But I can’t be picky!

The race was fairly spread out by Formula Ford standards with Daniel Cammish dominating from start to finish. A close battle for second between Scott Malvern, Scott Pye and Hill saw the latter lose out when he went off at McLeans.

When you're racing as close as Malvern (22), Pye (1) and Hill (0), it can often end in tears

After Hill’s demise the safety car came out which briefly bunched everyone up before Cammish cruised off to take the win, however there was still some fairly close racing behind him.

After the Formula Ford boys were done it was time for the second BTCC race of the day. With the grid order decided by the way they finished race one, Honda’s Gordon Sheddon took pole ahead of Tom Chilton in the Ford Focus and Mat Jackson in the BMW. However it was Chilton’s team-mate, Tom Onslow-Cole who took full advantage of carrying no success ballast to take victory from eighth on the grid.

Again there was little action going into the Old Hairpin however there was some overtaking mainly by Jason Plato who stormed up from last to come home third and I was able to capture his move on Tom Chilton coming down through the Craner Curves.

Gordon Sheddon leads the field down the hill in race two.

And leads them up towards McLeans

Plato starts his move on Chilton...

...he gets up alongside the Ford as they approach the Old Hairpin...

...and the deed is done.

Now he sets off after Mat Jackson

That was most of the action of the second race with the exception of drivers running wide on the exit of the Old Hairpin. Plato was the only one of the top drivers to make that mistake, dropping two wheels onto the dirt beyond the curb on the exit, however several drivers further found down the field found the mud and grass to good to miss.

Shaun Hollamby in his VW Golf being one such driver

Andy Neate found himself under increased pressure from John George after this mistake