- Josh Smith and Sennan Fielding share the victory spoils in North Yorkshire
- Ricky Collard a podium visitor to maintain his championship lead
The day’s first race ended in controversy after a final-corner clash between race-long leader Lando Norris and his pursuer Daniel Ticktum. Norris retired and Ticktum was excluded from the results, so Sennan Fielding was awarded the win, his second of the season for JHR Developments. Ricky Collard (TRS Arden) finished closed behind Fielding to maintain his championship lead.
A last-corner clash brought a dramatic end to the first MSA Formula race of the Croft weekend, with Carlin’s Lando Norris and Fortec’s Dan Ticktum colliding as they disputed the lead. Within sight of the chequered flag, victory and the championship lead, race-long leader Lando Norris was sidelined from the event, with Ticktum able to continue after their contact to cross the line first.
Norris, who had shown all his rivals a clean pair of heels in qualifying by topping the time sheets for the second meeting in succession, had made a good start from the pole and quickly established a lead over his rival which he looked set to maintain to the line.
Their collision also affected the battle for the final podium place: Sennan Fielding (JHR) had held third spot from the outset after a lightning start from fifth on grid and was pursued for the duration of the race by the TRS Arden car of Ricky Collard. Collard, suffering understeer throughout, had no answer for Fielding’s pace, but when they arrived at the hairpin to find Norris’s stricken car, Fielding opted to go around the outside of the debris while Collard opted for an inside line, gaining him track position. Thus the order at the finish line was Ticktum, Collard, Fielding.
Extensive post-race investigations by the race stewards decided that Ticktum had caused an avoidable collision, and excluded him from the results. Further, they ruled that Collard had passed Fielding under yellow warning flags, albeit unintentionally, and reversed their positions. Once the dust had settled it was therefore Sennan Fielding who was awarded the win, his second of the season for JHR – with Collard second – pending any appeals to the amended result.
Collard said: “I made a terrible start. It probably looked spectacular because I left some big black lines, but it wasn’t very quick. I’m a bit frustrated about that. I knew that the race would come to us and I kept chipping away and then we came upon Lando’s car in the middle of the track.”
The battle for the lower positions was less controversial. Double R’s Tarun Reddy slotted ahead of Carlin man Petru Florescu for fifth on the second lap and held station to the end for what became third and his maiden podium finish. Florescu retired to the pits mid-race with a loose rear wheel, promoting Louise Richardson to fourth – her best result of the season so far and a reward for the hard work of the Richardson Racing team since the Oulton Park rounds.
Matheus Leist was next up for Double R, ahead of Carlin’s Colton Herta, with Josh Smith enjoying his best run of the year to finish seventh overall, and therefore with Ticktum’s exclusion a maiden victory in the Rookie class, thanks to passing the TRS Arden car of Sandy Mitchell on the final lap. “It was a good race,” said Josh. “It’s all down to good preparation. We’ve worked hard and put in a big effort this weekend. We’re going forwards now.” Enaam Ahmed completed the top nine for TRS Arden, ahead of JTR team-mates Dan Baybutt, James Pull and Ameya Vaidyanathan.
Further last-lap drama was provided by Darius Karbaley (Falcon) and Jack Butel (JHR Developments), who collided at the Complex; both retired.
Josh Smith claimed a popular maiden victory in the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship this afternoon, leading at Croft from lights out to chequered flag for the Fortec team. The 16-year-old Rookie from Cumbria executed a perfect getaway from his first pole start and despite early pressure from Carlin driver Colton Herta he never looked in danger of being deprived the win.
By the end of the opening lap Racing Steps Foundation-backed Smith was six-tenths ahead and by mid-distance he was a second and a half in the clear; he went on to stroke out his advantage to four seconds by flag fall.
A delighted Josh said on the podium: “I had no clue whatsoever before this weekend that I’d get my first win. I knew I had good pace but I never thought this was on the cards. I can’t thank the team enough. Once I knew I’d be starting from pole I felt pretty confident because I knew I had the pace and consistency. All I had to do was to get if off the line.”
Herta had to give up his attempts to chase Smith and concentrate on defending his second from an assertive Louise Richardson, who made a great start from fourth on the grid to slot into third ahead of Double R’s Matheus Leist. Louise chased down the young American and made a bid to pass him around the outside at Tower on the ninth lap before settling for third. Said Louise: “I made a good start and then it was just a case of holding on… I got close to Colton and looked to have a go but this was going to be my first time on the podium and I just wanted to finish and with the car in one piece. I’m happy. Oulton was horrendous and now here I am on the podium.”
First-race frontrunner Sennan Fielding started sixth and gained a place on the opening lap, then liberated fourth from Leist out of Tower two laps from the end. Leist had to settle for fifth ahead of his team-mate Tarun Reddy.
A subdued Daniel Ticktum held seventh throughout and was followed to the line by TRS Arden drivers Sandy Mitchell and Enaam Ahmed, with Dan Baybutt completing the top 10 for JTR ahead of his team-mate James Pull, with Ricky Collard 12th after a pit-lane start after he failed to make the grid in time.
After his race one crash, Lando Norris started from the back and raced to 13th ahead of his team-mate Petru Florescu. Jessica Hawkins placed 15th for Falcon ahead of Rafael Martins (SWB), Jack Butel (JHR) and Ollie Pidgley (Richardson Racing). Ameya Vaidyanathan (JTR) was the sole retirement; Darius Karbaley (Falcon) failed to make the start due to damage from race one.
The third and final Croft MSA Formula race is set for mid-afternoon tomorrow between the headlining British Touring Car Championship events and will be screened live on ITV4.
Provisional results Croft 27 June 2015
Round 13: 15 laps / 31.87 miles
1 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 20m 52.980s / 91.58mph
2 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden +0.838s
3 Tarun REDDY / IND / Double R 20m +1.823s
4 Louise RICHARDSON / GBR / Richardson +4.638
5 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R +7.415s
6 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +8.641s
7 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec +9.155s
8 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden +10.827s
9 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden +12.813s
10 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR +13.454s etc
Fastest lap Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 1m 22.274s / 92.98mph Est Rec
Rookie class 1 Smith, 2 Mitchell, 3 Ahmed, 4 Baybutt, 5 Ameya VAIDYANATHAN / IND / JTR, 6 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB
Round 14: 14 laps / 29.75 miles
1 SMITH 19m 21.405s / 92.21mph
2 HERTA +3.999s
3 RICHARDSON +4.917s
4 FIELDING +8.656s
5 LEIST +9.326s
6 REDDY +10.115s
7 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec +11.558s
8 MITCHELL +12.294s
9 AHMED +12.930s
10 BAYBUTT +13.958s etc
Fastest lap Herta 1m 22.218s / 93.04mph Rec
Rookie class 1 Smith, 2 Ticktum, 3 Mitchell, 4 Ahmed, 5 Baybutt, 6 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin, 7 Martins
Provisional championship standings
1 Collard 194 points; 2 Norris 175; 3 Ticktum 155, 4 Leist 154; 5 Fielding 124; 6 Herta 100; 7 Mitchell 97; 8 James Pull 85; 9 Jack Barlow 66; 10 Martins 61 etc
Rookie class 1 Ticktum 256; 2 Baybutt 187; 3 Mitchell 184; 4 Smith 156; 5 Martins 154; 6 Ahmed 149 etc