• Hampshire driver Ricky hoping for home-track advantage as he bids to improve his qualifying performance and bag more EcoBoost race wins
• Daniel Ticktum leads championship and Rookie class after solid start to his maiden season of racing

2 May, 2015 – After scoring one race win and a hat-trick of podium finishes in the opening two meetings of the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship season, Hampshireman Ricky Collard is ready to step up his performances next weekend (9/10 May) at his home circuit of Thruxton.

The 18-year-old TRS Arden driver has been one of the consistently quick drivers, not once in six races finishing outside the top six, and knows exactly where he needs to improve if he is to displace his 15-year-old rival Dan Ticktum as the consistent race winner. “I just haven’t extracted the most from myself in qualifying: I have been too aggressive on the tyres and that has compromised my performance,” says Ricky, son of BTCC racer Rob Collard.

“Aggression has paid off for me in the races – that’s why I have managed to come through the field to finish well, because of my aggression. I have no problem in fighting my way through in the races, but if I can improve in qualifying and start more races from the front, then I can finish more races at the front.”

Collard was pleased with his performance in pre-event testing at Thruxton, where he ended the day third fastest overall behind championship leader Ticktum and TRS Arden driver Sandy Mitchell, and also with the way his 1.6-litre turbocharged Ford EcoBoost engine has performed: “The engine has been great because they are all so equally balanced across the field; no-one has a power advantage and the reliability has been excellent. Testing went well for me at Thruxton and I am going there with the expectation of winning. I am not looking for a top-five finish; I am there purely to win. It adds a bit more pressure, but it’s great to have a home race, because all my sponsors, family and friends will be there.”

It is Fortec driver Ticktum who has the championship momentum; he leads Collard by a handsome 27 points after executing two impeccable pole-to-flag wins at Donington Park last month. Ticktum, new to car racing this year, is so far unbeaten in the championship’s rookie class.

With four different winners in the opening six races, Ford’s new MSA Formula has got away to a spectacularly competitive and exciting start, not least because four of those Ford EcoBoost-powered races have been won by super-talented 15-year-olds. Carlin man Lando Norris is the other double winner thanks to his successes at Brands Hatch in early April but, after a middling time at Donington, Lando is only fourth in the championship and is looking to regain lost ground.

The other race winner is Double R’s exciting 16-year-old Brazilian talent Matheus Leist, who romped away with the Donington reverse-grid race from the pole to mark himself down as one to watch. With three podiums under his belt, JTR’s James Pull is looking like a contender for race victory soon, with his team-mate Dan Baybutt not far behind and shaping up to be Ticktum’s chief rival for rookie class honours.

MBM’s Jack Barlow has some less than fond memories of Thruxton – it was there a year ago that he crashed in Formula Ford testing and brought a premature end to his season. He’s bounced back well from injury and the disappointment, however, and two fourth-place MSA Formula finishes suggest he will be a podium visitor soon.

JHR Developments driver Sennan Fielding was a Donington podium man and has been quick at every circuit so far visited, including Thruxton, where he topped one of last month’s test sessions. The other championship top-10 men are Colton Herta, youngest in the field and showing signs of steady improvement as he gets to grips with his Carlin machine, and Leist’s team-mate and countryman, Gustavo Myasava, who has proved spectacular on occasion.

Collard will not be the only Hampshire driver in action next weekend: 17-year-old Ollie Pidgley, from Downton, made his debut at Donington and will return at Thruxton with Richardson Racing, alongside Louise Richardson. Louise, the only non-teenager in the field, should be one to watch as she gains experience with the MSA Formula chassis.

Arden team-mates Sandy Mitchell and Enaam Ahmed are closely matched in speed and results so far – and came rather too close to each other at Donington – and both undoubtedly have the speed to get on terms with the frontrunners before long, and the same is more than true of Ticktum’s Fortec running mate, Josh Smith, who is backed by the Racing Steps Foundation.

SWB Motorsport’s Rafael Martins impressed with his pace at Brands Hatch but spent more time off the track at Donington than on it… If the Brazilian can keep his head next weekend he will be at or near the front. The championship top 15 is completed by Double R’s Tarun Reddy, who is one of two Indian drivers in the series, the other being JTR’s Ameya Vaidyanathan. Falcon’s Darius Karbaley has been a steady rookie improver, as has Carlin’s Romanian talent Petru Florescu, with Jerseyman Jack Butel settling in well at SWB Motorsport.

MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by Ford EcoBoost
Provisional championship standings after Round 6
1 Daniel TICKTUM GBR 114 points
2 Ricky COLLARD GBR 87
3 James PULL GBR 77
4 Lando NORRIS GBR 74
5 Matheus LEIST BRA 65
6 Jack BARLOW GBR 45
7 Sennan FIELDING GBR 38
8 Colton HERTA USA 29
9 Daniel BAYBUTT GBR 25
10 Gustavo MYASAVA BRA 19 etc