• Ricky Collard joins Lando Norris in the winners’ circle at Brands Hatch
• New championship’s opening rounds declared a huge success for the teams, their young drivers and the appreciative spectators

BRANDS HATCH 5 April, 2015 – With wins for two teenage drivers, superbly competitive and professional racing from all 20 competitors and a trio of thrilling events held before a large and enthusiastic Easter holiday crowd, the maiden competitive weekend of MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by Ford EcoBoost has been judged a huge success.

Following on from 15-year-old Lando Norris’s win on Saturday in the opening round of the UK’s new junior single-seater series, there were victories at Brands Hatch today for Ricky Collard, 18, and, in the finale, another triumph for Norris and the Carlin team.

MSA chief executive Rob Jones was the enthusiastic award-giver on the podium for today’s opening race, with FIA single-seater championships manager Oscar Urdeitx performing the honours this afternoon. Representatives of championship tyre supplier Hankook travelled from Korea and Germany to be among the championship guests in Kent.

Gerard Quinn, head of racing for Ford Performance in Europe, said: “MSA Formula’s first race weekend has been incredibly successful. The most satisfying part of this journey, the planning for which started three years ago, is the professionalism shown by the participating teams and the incredibly talented young drivers. The icing on the cake is that there have been so many 15-year-old drivers on the podium. That is a great start for MSA Formula and a true representation of what we set out to achieve.”


Round 2 report

Ricky Collard made excellent use of his single-seater racing experience to out-gun his younger rivals this morning and claim victory in the second round of the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship. It was the first win at the wheel of a car for the 18-year-old son of touring car racer Rob Collard (dad went on to follow his son’s lead with victory in the first round of the BTCC), and the maiden win in MSA Formula for him and the TRS Arden team.

Collard started from the second row for the reverse-grid race by dint of his top-five finish in yesterday’s opening round of the UK’s new youth motorsport championship. Ahead of him on the grid were three rookie drivers: JTR’s 15-year-olds James Pull and Dan Baybutt, and 16-year-old Brazilian Rafa Martins (SWB Motorsport), and while they hesitated very slightly at the lights there was a decisive blast-off from Collard, enabling him to draw alongside Pull into Paddock Hill Bend and gain enough momentum to out-drag him up the hill towards the Druids hairpin.

Once in front there was no dislodging the Arden driver from top spot, even though he had to survive two brief safety car periods and a concerted late-race assault from Fortec’s flier Dan Ticktum.

The first of the caution periods came after Sennan Fielding (JHR Developments) was tagged into a spin on the run down to Graham Hill Bend; his car came to a halt in an awkward position and needed assistance to get going again. The car with which Fielding’s made contact, Dan Baybutt’s JTR chassis, pitted for a new wheel.

The second safety period came on the ninth lap, when Martins, who had been driving brilliantly to move into second place ahead of Pull, spun out of Clark Curve, stalled and couldn’t restart his car. Rafa’s demise promoted Ticktum to second. Dan – second overall and the leading rookie finisher yesterday – had started seventh and made up three places on the opening lap thanks to the Baybutt/Fielding incident. He picked off Pull on lap six for third place, and by the time the safety car pulled in for the final time the Sussex star was seven-tenths behind the leader.

If Dan was looking for hesitation from Ricky to help him close the gap, he was to be disappointed. Collard nailed the second safety car restart of his career and quickly built his advantage to nearly a second. Ticktum battled back to close it down to 0.4s in the closing laps, but was unable to get on terms.

Winner, Ricky Collard: “I couldn’t believe it… The second I managed to get a gap, out came the safety car! My start was a bit of a Collard special: I had two Weetabix this morning and managed to get off the line quite quickly. After that I was just focused on staying consistent, but the safety cars threw everything into the air. My first-ever restart under the safety car was quickly followed by another, but it all worked out OK. We had a couple of small issues, including tyre wear because I pushed a little too hard early on, but the car was handling like it was on rails and it’s a fantastic result for me and the team.”

Second, Dan Ticktum: “Starting seventh was a bit harder than from fifth but wasn’t too bad and I was confident in the pace of the car. I narrowly managed to avoid the first-lap incident and kept chipping away at it throughout the race. I tried to catch Ricky but he pulled a bit too much of a gap on me at the restart, which if I’m honest was my fault.”

Third, James Pull: “My start was better than yesterday’s, which was a bit of a shocker, but I learned from that experience. Just before the first safety car I got hit by another car, which may have affected things a little, but overall it felt good and I’m pleased.”

Pull came under heavy assault towards the end from the youngest driver in the field, 15-year-old Colton Herta (Carlin), who started 12th after a disappointing qualifying and first race yesterday. The Californian made steady progress through the pack, passing Matheus Leist for fourth spot nine laps from the end. Racing Steps Foundation driver Josh Smith (Fortec) made excellent progress also, from 11th on the grid to fifth, and collected third place in the Rookie class behind Ticktum and Pull.

Scotsman Sandy Mitchell (TRS Arden) started three places behind Smith and finished sixth, 2s behind Josh, to underline his promise. Jack Barlow, a Saturday non-finisher for MBM, battled from the back to seventh, ahead of Leist, round one victor Lando Norris and Norris’s Carlin team-mate Petru Florescu.

The finishing order was completed by Jerseyman Jack Butel, Louise Richardson, Darius Karbaley and pit-stopper Baybutt. Spins brought an end to the race for Gustavo Myasava and Enaam Ahmed, with Tarun Reddy joining them, Martins and Fielding in retirement when the Indian driver’s Double R car suffered braking issues.


Round 3 report

Lando Norris wrapped up a brilliant first weekend of MSA Formula racing this evening with a well-judged victory in Round three of the championship. Carlin man Norris had started from the pole but lost out at the lights to JTR’s rookie James Pull, who learned from his mistakes of the earlier races and made an impeccable getaway from P2 to lead into Paddock Hill Bend.

Norris slipped to third behind Pull and Double R driver Matheus Leist on the opening lap, but regained second place at the start of the second lap, just before the race was neutralised by the safety car, which was called in while the beached car of Gustavo Myasava was removed from the Druids gravel trap.

Pull made the best of the situation to hold off Norris at the restart but was less lucky after the second intervention from the safety car, called on track on lap nine when Jack Butel’s car became stranded after a collision with that of Josh Smith. Norris, an old hand at managing his pace under safety car conditions, lined up the leader perfectly at the restart to gain the advantage out of Paddock Hill Bend and up the hill towards Druids.

Norris emerged in front on lap 12 and was not slow to build a useful lead which he extended to 3s by the chequered flag on lap 23. Pull kept Leist at Bay for the duration to claim second place and the Rookie class win, with Brazil’s Matheus claiming his second podium finish of the weekend.

Winner, Lando Norris: “I dropped the clutch a bit too aggressively at the start, I think, and got a bit of smoke from the rear tyres. After that I tried to settle into it a bit; I knew I had better tyres than James so I thought that I would be able to get him at some point. When I did, I managed to get a bit of a gap and break away from him.”

Second, James Pull: “I learned from the earlier races and made a good start. But Lando got the jump on me at the safety car restart, got a run on me through Paddock and there wasn’t much that I could do about it.”

Third, Matheus Leist: “It was good… Could have been better, but we are still improving and the car is not yet perfect. But it’s so good to start the championship with two podiums…”

Jack Barlow made up for earlier disappointments to claim fourth place for MBM, which position he held from start to finish, with Dan Ticktum coming through from P7 on the grid to fifth by the end of the race. Round two victor Ricky Collard claimed sixth, ahead of his TRS Arden team-mate Enaam Ahmed. The top 10 was completed by Dan Baybutt, Rafa Martins and Sennan Fielding.