• First-round win for Ford EcoBoost-powered Lando Norris and Carlin thanks to excellent race start in tricky conditions
• Dan Ticktum second to make it a young driver 1-2
BRANDS HATCH 4 April, 2015 – Lando Norris made a bit of motor-sporting history this afternoon, the Somerset youngster and his Ford EcoBoost-powered, Carlin-prepared car claiming victory in the first-ever round of the new MSA Formula Championship. It was a copybook performance from Norris, who seized control at the start of the race and held on to it despite pressure all the way to the chequered flag. Racing rookie Dan Ticktum seized second place from Brazilian Matheus Leist three laps from the end.
It was a thriller of an inaugural race for Britain’s new junior motorsport programme and a great advertisement for the initiative, with 15-year-olds Norris and Ticktum atop the podium.
Norris had been beaten to pole position by JTR’s Dan Baybutt in the morning’s damp qualifying session, but Lando was the fortunate one – his side of the track was drier and had more grip, and as Baybutt’s slick Hankooks struggled to gain traction at the start, Norris was off like a rocket and into the lead by the time they arrived at Paddock Hill Bend.
Baybutt slipped to fourth behind Leist’s Double R car and Ticktum’s Fortec machine on the opening lap, and then slithered even further down the order on the second lap with a half-spin, ending up eighth, just ahead of his team-mate James Pull, another who struggled for grip off the line.
There was startline drama for Jack Barlow (MBM) and Louise Richardson (Richardson Racing) whose cars touched and were eliminated, Barlow returning to the pits while Richardson came to a halt at Paddock Hill Bend, necessitating a brief safety car period while her car was recovered.
Norris handled the restart perfectly to build his lead over Leist to just over a second before the Brazilian fell into Ticktum’s clutches. Dan had a go at finding a way past into Paddock at the end of lap 19 but was rebuffed. He regrouped, made a great exit from Paddock next time around and dived up Leist’s inside into Druids to claim the position. Given a longer race Ticktum might have caught and passed Norris for the win, but with only three laps remaining Lando’s victory was assured.
Said Lando: “Dan was on the wetter side of the track so I was lucky at the start; it made up for not getting the pole. I got slightly better drive into turn one and from there it was a case of trying to stay as calm as possible. I had a big lead by the time Dan got past for second, and I think even if he’d caught me he would have found it hard to get past.”
Ticktum: “I caught Leist up early on but then made a small mistake and lost ground again. After the safety car period I really caught on to him and thought I could get him at Paddock, but I found the track a bit damp there and thought better of it. Next lap I made sure I got a good wide exit from Paddock and got a good run on him up the hill and into Druids.” Dan was the leading Rookie finisher and collected a £500 cheque for his result.
Leist: “My car started to lose traction a bit towards the end of the race, but I am still happy with third place in my first race in Europe. It’s a good start to the championship for me.”
Sennan Fielding made up for a disappointing qualifying to slot into fifth at the start of the race for the JHR Developments team; he was elevated to fourth by Baybutt’s second-lap spin and held on to that position to the chequered flag, ahead of Ricky Collard (TRS Arden). Rafael Martins was a level-headed sixth for SWB Motorsport on his car-racing debut, and second-placed Rookie finisher, ahead of Baybutt and Pull. Enaam Ahmed (TRS Arden) and Tarun Reddy (Double R) completed the top 10, ahead of Josh Smith, Colton Herta, Petru Florescu, Sandy Mitchell, Jack Butel and Darius Karbaley. Alexandra Marinescu did not take the start, sidelined by her Friday testing crash.
Tomorrow’s opening race for MSA Formula – which will be screened on ITV4 at around 1255 – will see James Pull starting from pole, ahead of Baybutt, Martins and Collard. Norris will go from the pole in Sunday’s third and final race.