We finally come to it! After all the testing, launches and prep work, the 2018 Scottish Formula Ford season got underway on the 8th of April at the Knockhill Racing Circuit in Fife. Sunday also marked the 50th anniversary of Scottish motor racing legend Jim Clark's untimely death and the club marked the occasion appropriately with all drivers and officials presented with unique commemorative medals. Overall, it was to prove a rollercoaster weekend for the team - definitely starting the year out with a memorable couple of days at the track.
...it became clear that reigning champion, Ross Martin and Jordan were extremely evenly matched on pace.
The tone was set for an exciting weekend during Saturday practice when it became clear that reigning champion, Ross Martin and Jordan were extremely evenly matched on pace. The final session saw the two lapping within sight of each other for the first time and throughout the runs, neither could open an advantage over the other. The stage, it seemed, was set for a grand battle royal on Sunday...
Qualifying on Sunday morning did not disappoint. The overnight rain had left the circuit slippery but with a drying line, the circuit continued to improve throughout the 15-minute session as drivers hunted for grip on the ever-evolving surface. From the start, Jordan led Ross from the holding area and the two proceeded to leave the rest of the field trailing, both physically and on the timing screens, as they pushed one-another to find the perfect lap. Swapping positions throughout the session (again, both on-track and on the boards) in order to find the perfect line, the pair continued to lower the pole position benchmark. As the final minutes ticked away, it was Jordan who held the slender advantage. However, the final lap was to be the decider, with the circuit at it's driest. Jordan's efforts ended with a small slide wide at McIntyres corner and Ross took full advantage, sneaking into pole position by just 0.081 seconds.
Race 1 opened the 2018 racing action proper with the lead pair again assuming their positions at the front over Duffus Dip. It was Ross who had the early advantage however, pulling almost two seconds clear as Jordan struggled for grip in the opening corners. On lap 2, Jordan had stabilised the gap and started to leave Seb Melrose in 3rd behind and as lap three commenced it looked as if the battle everyone was waiting for was about to begin in earnest... Until the hairpin where Jordan's car suddenly slowed to a crawl, pulled aside and stopped. It was an abrupt and anticlimactic end to the team's first race of 2018 caused by a broken gear selector fork.
After the DNF result in Race 1, Jordan lined-up 9th on the grid for Racer 2. Harry has stripped, repaired and rebuilt the gearbox between races with a borrowed gear selector from the Graham Brunton Racing team and the team's task was clear - to make as much progress through the field and score as many points as possible to make up for the disappointment of the first race. The action did not disappoint. Jordan drove with clinical efficiency, dispatching car after car in the early laps to find himself 4th by lap four and then take third in a brave move around the outside of Neil Broome into Duffus Dip on lap five. While he had been removing from his lowly grid slot however, Ross and Seb had made perfect use of the laps to build a significant gap which was unsurmountable by Jordan in the remaining time. That didn't stop Jordan from showing what might have been though as his pace ended just 0.061 seconds shy of Ross' new lap record - the pair half a second clear on the timing charts of Seb and a second ahead of anybody else. It was an impressive display from both drivers but left the disappointment of 'what might have been' with spectators, who had been robbed of the 'battle royale' promised on Saturday and in qualifying.
...we can be very proud of what we have achieved and the results of the hard work we've put in over the winter.
"Well, that was an interesting weekend." Was Jordan's summary. "Firstly, congratulations to Ross who drove perfectly all day. On our side we can be happy that we showed good pace all weekend and the car felt good in all conditions. We still have some more to find but looking at the data we improved the car from Saturday to Sunday and I'm confident we can continue to take steps forward at the next race also. The fact we were able to all but match Ross' pace in the second race is very encouraging as I was nursing the car a bit at the hairpin since the gear lever was slightly different from ours and the gears were all in strange places as a result."
"It's been fantastic to get back racing after the break however and we can be very proud of what we have achieved and the results of the hard work we've put in over the winter. I know I speak for the whole team when I say we can't wait for the next race to get back out on-track and fight back in the championship!"
Pictures courtesy of Alex Ireland & Jordan Gronkowski Racing