The first race weekend of a new season is always met with great anticipation – both from teams and fans alike and the opening meeting of the 2019 Scottish Formula Ford Championship was no different. After a long winter break and only a solitary pre-season test, the team was particularly eager to get to work on Saturday morning for free practice.
Conditions at Knockhill proved to be rather inhospitable across the weekend, with temperatures struggling to get above 7°C and the track never really drying. Varying degrees of rain, fog and drizzle was the order for both days, which at least meant that teams and drivers had plenty of time to fine-tune their wet-weather setups.
Saturday testing went very smoothly for the team, with work focusing on fine-tuning the balance of the car in the conditions. With different options trailed in each of the four sessions, Saturday evening was spent scrutinizing each lap of video and telemetry data in order to decide on the best route to go for Sunday.
Consistently wet and cold conditions remained into Sunday as the nine-car-grid exited the pit lane for the first qualifying session of 2019. Jordan immediately leapt to the top of the timing screens and as the session progressed, it was a position he never gave up. Times improved across the board as drivers acclimatized to the conditions, but Jordan’s best lap of 1:00.871 was good enough to take pole position from Jamie Thorburn by a huge 0.938 seconds. Kenny Cowie secured third on the grid, 1.455 seconds off pole, with the rest of the field over two seconds slower than Jordan’s benchmark.
"The car has felt great all weekend"
“That was a bit of a surprise!” said a delighted Jordan after the session. “The car has felt great all weekend, and in pre-season testing, so we hoped we would had a chance at the pole but towards the end of yesterday it looked as though Jamie was pretty much on our pace. We spent a lot of time last night going over the data and making sure we gave ourselves the best chance today and it looks as though that worked. But the size of the gap is definitely a surprise. Unfortunately we don’t get any points or prizes for qualifying – but starting at the front is obviously the best place to be for the race.”
As the five red lights went out and Scottish Formula Ford 2019 officially got underway, it was Jordan holding the lead into Duffus from Thorburn, the latter right on the former’s gearbox after a better start. Jordan held the lead through the initial sweeping corners and by the railway straight had stretched the gap to a few car lengths. That breathing space gradually grew with each lap as Jordan relentlessly set about setting purple (fastest of anyone) sectors and fastest laps as the race ticked by. His twelfth and final lap proved the fastest of the race and he was the only driver to lap below the one minute mark.
The result was the team’s first victory since 2017 and it couldn’t have come in more emphatic fashion – Jordan crossing the line 8.6 seconds ahead of Throburn in second, with Cowie 22.1 seconds back in third.
"I just focused on trying to improve each corner"
“Wow, that is such a great feeling.” said Jordan. “It was close into the first corner but after that I was able to steadily build the gap and once it started to get significant I just focused on trying to improve each corner every lap and gradually bring the lap time down each time. Once you have a decent-sized gap you obviously don’t want to do anything silly so I wasn’t really in qualifying mode. It is pretty satisfying to set the fastest lap of the race on your last lap though.”
Whilst the rain abated in the afternoon, to say the conditions improved would be an exaggeration as the mist and low temperatures ensured the track stayed wet. A greasy racing line had appeared however, meaning the track was in the best condition it had been all weekend, changing the dynamics slightly and offering to shake things up for the final formula ford race of the day.
At the lights, things were indeed shaken up as Jordan was left spinning his rear tyres, allowing Thorburn to snatch the lead into Duffus. The pair passed nose-to-tail through McIntyres before Jordan’s better run out of the chicane allowed him to attack the inside into Clark corner. Thorburn defended and the order remained unchanged as the two passed onto the railway straight. With Jordan again in close proximity, Thorburn defended the inside line forcing Jordan to go the long way around the outside, which he duly accepted, out-braking the Border Reivers driver and taking the lead back into the hairpin. A drag-race to Duffus followed but Jordan, now on the inside, defended the counter-attack and held the lead. The familiar gap began to appear between the two on the next lap until Jordan locked the inside front tyre under braking for the hairpin on lap two, drifting wide and allowing Thorburn to close back up again. He wasn’t able to make a move, however and Jordan regained his race one composure, building a 7.2 second lead by the flag and securing the ‘double’ – both race victories for the weekend. Another fastest lap was the icing on the cake.
“We had to fight for that one!” said Jordan after the race. “I don’t know if I was maybe on a wetter line than Jamie on the grid or something but I picked up a lot of wheelspin and he just sailed past me, which was a bit of a concern but it soon became clear we had the pace again to fight back and into the hairpin I was able to out-brake him around the outside. Then a lap later I locked the front, which definitely got my attention! Thankfully Jamie wasn’t quite close enough to get by again so from there I was just treading a bit more carefully and trying to be consistent and build a gap again, which we managed. We have a few things to look at after that race – the start was obviously poor, the grip wasn’t quite where I expected it to be and the car started to fade a little as the laps ticked by – so we’ll go away an analyze that for next time. Having said that though, it would be crazy not to be over the moon with this weekend!”
"Dad has put so much work into this car over the winter"
“It’s just all very surreal at the moment. I don’t think we can quite believe the results and the pace we’ve had here this weekend. Dad has put so much work into this car over the winter and it just feels so amazing to drive. I honestly cannot thank him enough for what he does! Also our sponsors – each and every one of them – we wouldn’t even be on the grid without them all and we’re so thankful for their support as always. Finally our army of #MyRaceSpace members who are racing with us as part of the team this year – thank you to all of you!”
“What else can we say about the weekend? You can never achieve total perfection in motorsport and with the issues we had at the start of race two we certainly didn’t today, but it’s probably as close as we’ve been!”