After eleven months, the team finally returned to Knockhill Racing Circuit for a race weekend in 2020. A mixed-bag of conditions greeted them for testing on Saturday morning, meaning the three sessions gave them a chance to run the car in very wet, damp and dry conditions all in the same day.
Overnight rain meant drivers were left guessing whether the circuit would dry sufficiently for Sunday afternoon's 10-minue qualifying session. When the green flag eventually waved, most of the circuit was indeed dry, with the hairpin and braking zone for Duffus the only damp sections remaining.
Gronkowski immediately set about trading fastest lap times with returning Scottish Formula Ford driver, Sebastian Melrose. Three laps from the end, Gronkowski moved a tenth of a second clear, compounding his effort with a near-identical final lap. Melrose was unable to respond and the team claimed pole position for the first race of the day.
"That was a tricky session.' Was Jordan's evaluation. 'The circuit was dry everywhere apart from the hairpin and braking for turn one, so it was very much a matter of maximising the lap and then making sure you didn't throw it all away at the last corner. We managed to come out on top through, which is the main thing!"
Melrose made a storming start as the red lights went out and led into Duffus. Gronkowski initially dropped back after a small mistake at the hairpin on lap one, but was quickly on the gearbox of the leader again a lap later. The battle then ranged between the two for the lead as they pulled way from the chasing pack.
Gronkowski's Van Diemen swarmed over the rear of the leading Ray until eventually passing into Clark corner. Melrose cut back underneath on the exit though, retaining the lead as the pair thundered down the Railway Straight.
A few laps later, Gronkowski again got past into Clark and this time Melrose was unable to re-pass immediately. Slipstreaming down the back straight, he made a late lunge into the hairpin to move alongside. Gronkowski fought to keep the position around the outside, but as the pair exited the corner Melrose cut across. The pair interlocked wheels as Gronkowski was forced off onto the gravel, bouncing over the grass to re-join.
With the loss of momentum, Gronkowski was out of contention and two laps later Melrose took the victory ahead of Gronkowski and Melrose's GBR teammate Logan Hannah in third. Gronkowski took the fastest lap.
"It was a good fight and we swapped places a couple of times. Then I don't know if he got frustrated or bored or what, but he just decided to run me off the track."
Jordan was unhappy with Melrose' driving standard afterwards; "I'm upset, but most of all disappointed by his decisions out there. I really enjoyed the opening exchanges we had. It was a good fight and we swapped places a couple of times. Then I don't know if he got frustrated or bored or what, but he just decided to run me off the track. I'd already passed him twice and if I had wanted to play that game I could easily have done the same, but I chose to be fair, leave him room and prolong the battle. He ultimately chose the easy way to win, but that's his prerogative I suppose. I just would have enjoyed a proper, fair, race-long battle like I've shared with other drivers. At the end of the day, you respect those drivers more."
Starting in P2 for the final race of the day, Gronkowski held the position into Duffus for the first time. After a steady opening couple of laps, Gronkowski's pace again came to the fore as he set what would becomes another fastest lap on the way to chasing down Melrose. The pair then renewed their race one battle, but this time at a slower pace as Hannah, with Matt Chisholm close behind, was able to catch them.
Melrose appeared to struggle heavily in the slow corners, forcing Gronkowski back into the clutches of his GBR teammate. At the hairpin he forced Gronkowski wide under braking, allowing Hannah to pass on the inside. Gronkowski tried to fight back over the remaining laps, but Hannah's defence was absolute and he had to resign himself to third.
"Ultimately, the real issue this weekend was that we lost the lead off the line in race 1... So we have work to do to address that for next time."
"The second half of that race was more enjoyable from a battling point of view.' Said Jordan. 'The race with Logan was clean, hard but fair and once she was past I couldn't find a way to get back ahead. The first half was again frustrating though as it was fairly obvious that once I caught Seb he just started backing me into Logan. They are teammates and I'm not naïve enough to think that they didn't discuss that tactic pre-race. When it's two against one you're always going to be up against the odds, but well done to them for playing the team game so well I suppose.'
'Ultimately, the real issue this weekend was that we lost the lead off the line in race 1. It's fairly obvious from our fastest laps that if we'd have gotten ahead early on we would have been able to capitalise on that. So we have work to do to address that for next time. But that's why we're here - we're no stranger to knuckling down and solving a problem or moving forward!'