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A Challenge & A Lesson

Blue skies, sunshine and plenty of Formula Fords was the recipe for a very competitive weekend at the Knockhill racing circuit as rounds 3 and 4 of the Scottish Championship also welcomed an array of the top drivers from the National series as guests. The reason for the sudden swelling of the grid to 17 drivers was that this was the first time in 2018 that the reverse direction layout was to be used at Knockhill and with the National series also using that configuration on the following weekend; drivers were keen to gain as much experience as possible.

Guest drivers did not score championship points and so although more cars were physically present, points would be given out only to the usual suspects.

For the team, it was an important weekend as their first major running on the reverse circuit (2017’s brief outing having been cut short by a mechanical failure after a single test session). As such, maximising track time was vital. Testing on Saturday morning began well, with Jordan making steady and significant gains through the first two sessions. However after the lunch break, progress plateaued and the team were left scratching their heads on Saturday evening as to how to achieve the balance they were looking for in-time for qualifying.

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny but unfortunately the team’s hopes weren’t so bright as Jordan still struggled with the balance of the car through the 15-minute qualifying session. The result was an 11th-place grid slot and much less than they had hoped for.

Harry & Jordan prepare for qualifying on Sunday morning - Alex Ireland

Race one began in unusual fashion as some guest cars elected to start from the pit lane to remove the potential for damage into the tight turn-one hairpin. Jordan immediately progressed to 7th as a result but bogged-down off the start line, allowing Gary Sykes passed. After trailing Sykes for a lap, Jordan slipstreamed him down the main straight but was forced to the outside line into the hairpin and had to remain behind. The next lap, a daring move almost onto the grass saw Jordan squeeze through on the inside and complete the move under breaking. His sights were set on Seb Melrose in 6th and over the remainder of the race the two drivers set about delivering the fastest laps. Melrose ultimately claimed the fastest SMRC lap, but the team were very encouraged with Jordan’s effort only falling a tenth of a second adrift. It seemed that some pace had finally been unlocked.

Jordan at-speed in Race 1, just 0.1secs shy of the new SMRC lap record - Alex Ireland

6th place at the finish also meant 3rd in the Scottish standings as championship leader Ross Martin won, with Melrose and Jordan the next Scottish finishers home.

Race two was a conundrum. Should the team keep the car as it had been in the first race and try to perhaps battle more closely with Melrose, or should they accept that anything better than 3rd in the Scottish standings was unlikely given their current form and use the race as a test session for more drastic setup changes in an attempt to unlock their still-missing full potential?

Deliberations were soon over in the favour of the second option, with the team gambling with a dramatic setup change in order to learn for the future (the second reverse-direction meeting scheduled for September). During the first couple of laps, it appeared that Jordan had the pace to remain with the leading pack but unfortunately his pace dropped-off dramatically as the race unfolded and a 7th place finish was all he could manage – the good news was that it was once again 3rd in the Scottish standings.

"You learn something every time you are out in the car, no matter if you are faster or slower..."

“It’s been a very tough weekend on-track.” was Jordan’s synopsis. “We simply haven’t been able to find the sweet spot with the car and of all the weekends you need to be in complete harmony out on track, this one is top of the list as these National competitors are always on their top game. It’s unfortunate not to have been able to mix it at the front as we had hoped, but we have some away with two solid finishes as far as the championship is concerned and that in itself is a plus after our DNF at the last meeting.

We have left here with some valuable data though and a good direction to pursue for the next reverse-circuit weekend in September. We know that we were quick in the first race today and when we tried to take one path to build on that in race two it didn’t work. You learn something every time you are out in the car, no matter if you are faster or slower so we now have a good baseline to develop from next time, knowing what made the car worse and so better-equipped on how to make it better.

Overall, we’ve had a clean weekend and some solid results, so we can’t complain too much. The reverse track has also been fantastic to drive – I really love the second half of the lap in particular! A final big thank-you to my dad as always and also to our sponsors and #MyRaceSpace members – some of whom joined us this weekend. It was really very special for me to see so much support in the pits and trackside!”

The best support in the paddock! - Howard Fisher

Jordan currently sits third in the Scottish Formula Ford Championship with 48 points. Ross Martin leads (having won all four races so far) with 103 points and Seb Melrose (having finished as runner-up in all four races) is second on 81 points.

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