Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Having secured the Scottish Formula Ford Title in September, the final race weekend of the year, rounds 12 and 13 of the championship, may have been seen as some as a bit of fun for the team, with all the pressure off...
"The feeling of nervous excitement and the pressure to deliver are exactly the same now on Sunday morning as they were at every other race."
"I honestly don't see it that way'. Said Jordan. 'The feeling of nervous excitement and the pressure to deliver are exactly the same now on Sunday morning as they were at every other race. It really doesn't feel any different now the title has been decided and I'm just as focused and driven as ever to do well out there."
In what were consistently-miserable conditions at Knockhill Racing Circuit, the field gathered for testing on Saturday afternoon, followed by qualifying and the final two races of the year on Sunday. Rain was near-constant from the start of testing until the end of the final race, which at least gave the teams and drivers plenty of running to fine-tune their cars to the soggy circuit.
The team worked on further-developing their wet weather setup during Saturday's running, knowing that the likelihood of having to use it again on Sunday was very high.
Sunday morning dawned to persistent rain, which continued as the cars took to the track for the final qualifying session of the year. Gronkowski took to the top of the leaderboard from the first lap, steadily improving the benchmark for the rest to aim for until the session was red-flagged for a stranded car at Clark corner. In the interval, the rain worsened, meaning that no-one improved in the second half of the session and Gronkowski secured the team's 5th and final pole position of the season. Neil Broome took the second spot, followed by 2014 Champion, Ciaran Haggerty who was re-uniting with the GBR team for the weekend.
Due to the conditions, race officials made the decision to start the first race of the day under the safety car - in order to reduce the risk of an incident on the grid or into turn one from a standing start with cars in close proximity and visibility so poor. Gronkowski took full advantage of the scenario to lead comfortably across the start line from Broome and Haggerty. The latter quickly moved up to second at McIntyre's on lap one, after which the order stabilised. Gronkowski had opened a gap of a few seconds up-front and it stayed relatively consistent until lap seven, when he seemingly found another gear and streaked clear - ultimately crossing the line 8.865 seconds ahead of Haggerty and almost 17 seconds clear of Broome in third.
"Yes! It's a great feeling to be back on the top step of the podium again!' Said Jordan after the race. 'Obviously the race itself was quite straight-forward and I have to say I was quite happy when the call to start under the safety car was made. It's one of those things where if you're on pole you're glad to do it [a safety-car start] as it cuts out the risk of something going wrong and someone jumping you off the line, but if you're in any other position you'd be calling for a normal start for the chance to get ahead! Ultimately the decision was made for our safety though and we have to respect the people who make that call.'
"... every lap you try and improve a little bit here and there and find a better line or a better way of going through each corner..."
'Early-on I saw the gap to Ciaran was pretty consistent and I was just trying to manage it and make sure I had enough of a cushion but then after a few laps I started treating the race a bit like the test runs we had yesterday, where every lap you try and improve a little bit here and there and find a better line or a better way of going through each corner and that seemed to allow us to really pull away. To have that kind of a gap by the flag is pretty insane!"
For the afternoon's race - the final one of 2019 - the rain finally eased to a light drizzle and eventually stopped altogether, although the sheer amount of water on the ground meant that a dry line was never going to appear. The danger of large pools of standard water reduced through and the start procedure was reverted to a conventional standing affair. The race itself was shortened from 12 to 10 laps however, in order to make up for time lost through the day via safety cars and recovery work in other classes.
Gronkowski leapt off the grid like a scalded cat
As the five red lights went out for the last time, Gronkowski leapt off the grid like a scalded cat to lead comfortably into Duffus for the first time. Haggerty and Broome maintained their second and third spots respectively as the field streamed away. This time, Gronkowski was aggressive from the get-go and immediately started setting fastest lap after fastest lap, streaking clear of the field in relentless fashion. Commentators and onlookers alike likened the performance to a masterclass of wet weather driving as the purple (fastest of anyone) sector times and lap times rattled-by. By the chequered-flag, Gronkowski was 8.224 seconds clear of Haggerty and 18.8 ahead of Broome. Gronkowski's dad was joined on the pit-wall by his mum to cheer-home a commanding victory, capping a dominant weekend, closing-out a title-winning year.
"What a car dad has given me!' Was Jordan's reaction. 'What an amazing car that is to drive in these conditions! I just had so much fun out there and all of the hard work, effort, research, development and step-by-step improvements we've made over the years really showed. I feel so comfortable in the car with total trust in what it could do and knowing how it would react before it did at every moment. When you get that kind of confidence in a car, especially so in these type of conditions, the speed and lap times just come naturally and I think that shows in the results we've had this weekend."
"It's been such an amazing way to end the year, with pole, a double win and both fastest laps. It also book-ends the season nicely as rounds one and two were in similar conditions and we managed similar results as well. Everyone who follows us know by now that we owe all of our success to our sponsors and My RaceSpace members, who all contribute to make moments like these possible and once again I thank them all from the bottom of my heart!"
"... it's just the best feeling in sport!"
"What can I say that hasn't already been said about this year? I'm pretty much lost for words! To end it like this, with a performance which people are telling me was dominant - it's just the best feeling in sport! It's the best possible way to go into the winter break. The only down-side is that it's something like four months until I get to drive the car again!"