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Turning Up The Heat

Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2021 Scottish Formula Ford Championship took place over a condensed single-day of action at Knockhill Racing Circuit on the 18th of July in overcast but very hot conditions. The team enjoyed a fantastic day, securing pole position, two race wins and two fastest laps - a maximum points-haul to turn up the heat in their title defence.


Qualifying

Following the morning's three practice sessions, the field took to the track at 12:20 for the 12-minute qualifying session. Jordan was quickly to the top of the timesheets, followed by Michael Gray and Neil Broome, however the order changed throughout the session as each of the three drivers had multiple laps deleted for track limit infringements. Despite the drama, Jordan still secured the team's first pole position of 2021 by over half a second from Gray, with Broome in third.

Photo: Alex Ireland

Jordan explained the lap time deletions after lengthy discussions between all the drivers and the Clerk of the Course following the session:


"There was quite an unexpected element of confusion there, but thankfully it hasn't affected anyone's grid position. Essentially, there was a decision made by the officials this weekend to define the track limits and what was deemed acceptable differently today as to what we have raced with for the past few years and specifically, to how things were governed at the first two rounds in June. Unfortunately, that wasn't communicated to any of us prior to this weekend and the result was that we were all getting reported for driving the same as we always have done. We've had a reasonably constructive conversation amongst all the drivers and with Steve (the Clerk of the Course) and things should be a little more pragmatic for the races."


Indeed the issue of track limits was non-existent for the remainder of the weekend.


Race 1

Despite a good initial launch, the second phase of Jordan's start was poor, allowing Gray to leapfrog him into the lead before the cars even arrived at Duffus for the first time.

Photo: Alex Ireland

For the first two laps, the pair were rarely separated by more than a few meters. Then, on the run down to the hairpin, Gronkowski moved to the outside as Gray defended the inside line. Gronkowski was able to brake much later, moving alongside then ahead and into the lead by the apex of the corner. Gray locked his brakes during the action, sliding his left-front tyre into a light contact with Gronkowski's right-rear, but thankfully neither car spun. Gray immediately pitted with suspected steering damage, but continued shortly after and began an impressive recovery drive.


Once in-front, Gronkowski never looked in danger, pulling consistently clear of Broome in second to take the team's first outright win of the year by almost seven seconds. Gray recovered to take the final podium spot.


"It's amazing to take our first proper win of the year after some wheel-to-wheel action, but the important thing is to stay focussed for race two this afternoon."

"That was very tense at the start." Said Jordan. "I fluffed the getaway and Michael came past like a rocket so there wasn't much I could do. After that I was just getting a feel for where he was strong and where he was perhaps vulnerable and then he braked much earlier than I was expecting at the hairpin. I went for it and knew that as long as I was ahead by the corner it'd be difficult for him to come back. I felt a little tap in the rear at the apex, which surprised me as I'd left plenty of room on the inside, but I heard from observers after the race that he'd locked-up, so nothing malicious and in that case it's actually lucky it was only a small tap!"


"Once the gap behind was reasonable I started to back off quite significantly as the championship rules mean we need to use tyres at multiple events so there was no point in taking any more life out of them than I needed to."


"It's amazing to take our first proper win of the year after some wheel-to-wheel action, but the important thing is to stay focussed for race two this afternoon."


Race 2

Gronkowski made a much better getaway this time, leading comfortably from Broome and Gray, who went side-by-side into Duffus. Gray emerged on top and now the race between the lead pair could resume as they streaked away from the rest of the pack.

Photo: Alex Ireland

It was Gronkowski who still held the upper-hand however, moving steadily clear by over three tenths of a second per lap for the opening five laps. A personal-best from Gray and a corresponding small mistake from Gronkowski on lap 6 saw the gap close slightly, but a renewed charge from Gronkowski meant he then moved four tenths per lap clear until the final lap, ultimately taking victory by just over four seconds.


"Dad... also noticed because he gave me a 'let's wind the pace up a bit' sign from the pit wall so I pushed a little bit more, without taking too many risks, and was able to again stretch the lead..."

"I'm very happy with that!" Enthused Jordan. "Without any incidents between us, and Michael right on my gearbox from the first lap, it was good to show that we had the pace and, more importantly the consistency, to pull away and build a comfortable gap. I just kept checking every lap out of the hairpin and each time he was slightly further back until I made an error on the brakes on lap 6, then he was a little closer. Dad also noticed because he gave me a 'let's wind the pace up a bit' sign from the pit wall so I pushed a little bit more, without taking too many risks, and was able to again stretch the lead comfortably, which was fantastic."


"A huge thank you as ways to dad this weekend, especially with the testing and racing all in a single day, he's been flat-out on the car with setup tweaks and maintenance to turn it around for all the sessions and things were flawless. These results are definitely for him today!"


"I can't thank my official sponsors enough either - it's always unbelievable that we have such amazing support and we honestly wouldn't be able to have these kind of perfect days without each and every one of them."


"A final word to the fans - although we're still living under some restrictions and limits, it really made my day to see all the waving and cheering from those who were trackside on the in-laps. As a driver, those are the moments that make you really smile - especially seeing the kids getting excited and enjoying their day. So thank you to everyone who made the trip to Knockhill and cheered us on!"

Photo: Alex Ireland

After taking both wins and fastest lap bonus points, the team have extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Formula Ford Championship to 28 points over Michael Gray in second. Full standings can be seen here: Formula Ford 1600 Standings | Scottish Motor Racing (smrc.co.uk)


Rounds 5 & 6 take place at Knockhill on Sunday the 8th of August.

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