- Thrills and spills at Knockhill, through which Sennan Fielding and Ricky Collard emerge to claim the victory spoils
- A bad day at the office for Dan Ticktum, and a disappointing one for Lando Norris
- Rookie class wins for Josh Smith and Enaam Ahmed
The upshot is that with nine races remaining, Collard is back on top of the championship table, albeit by only four points, with Fielding up to third overall behind Collard and Lando Norris.
Sennan Fielding emerged victorious from a chaotic and incident-strewn 20th round of MSA Formula this morning at Knockhill to claim his third win of the season for the JHR Developments team. His triumph came at the expense of race-long leader Dan Ticktum, whose car failed him on the final lap. Colton Herta claimed second spot for Carlin, with Ticktum’s Fortec team-mate Josh Smith salvaging something for the squad with a hard-earned third place.
There was drama throughout the 19 laps, the first coming on the opening lap when Tarun Reddy (Double R) collided with Jessica Hawkins’ Falcon Motorsport machine, with both cars coming to rest in awkward places, necessitating a safety car intervention. Ticktum, who started from pole in the reverse-grid race, led from the start ahead of Smith and Herta, and maintained his position at the head of the field when racing resumed on lap seven. By the end of the ninth Dan’s lead over Josh was stretched to 1.9s.
But the safety car was on track again on the next lap while the car of championship leader Lando Norris (Carlin) was recovered from the Duffus Dip gravel trap; Lando had been tapped into a spin by a pursuer as he defended eighth place. Again, Ticktum handled the restart with skill to maintain course for what would have been his fourth win of the year.
Lap 14 saw a shake up behind as Herta launched an attack on Smith as Ticktum’s pursuers headed towards the Hairpin. There was contact between the pair, and Fielding took the opportunity to follow Herta past the momentarily unsettled Smith. Behind Josh, James Pull (Fortec) got caught up in the melee and speared off the track and into the barriers. Next time around Fielding seized second from Herta.
Ticktum’s trouble-free run came to a halt at the start of the 19th, his car losing power as it crossed the start line. Dan battled to get the machine back up to full speed but was literally powerless to prevent Fielding and the rest streaming past him. Thus Sennan – who yesterday claimed a surprise podium finish at Knockhill – gratefully took the win, with Herta crossing the line just seven-tenths behind and Smith collecting third, and the Rookie class victory.
Said winner Fielding: “It’s definitely been my lucky weekend so far. After qualifying I wasn’t expecting much in the way of results. I bided my time behind Josh and Colton and could see they were getting quite close to each other – I wanted to get stuck in too but I decided to hold back. As soon as I saw they had contact then I decided it was my time to take advantage down into the hairpin. I was happy to settle for second and then on the last lap I saw Dan have his problem, and it gifted me the win. We’ve not had the outright pace of the frontrunners all weekend, so it just shows the importance of being there at the finish.”
Race officials deemed the contact between Herta and Smith a racing incident: Said Rookie victor Josh: “Fortunately my car felt fine after my impact with Colton.”
Added Herta: “That was a crazy race. I was just trying to stay out of trouble – and overtake at the same time. At least I ended the race in better condition than a lot of the guys.”
TRS Arden team-mates Sandy Mitchell and Enaam Ahmed completed the Rookie podium with fourth and fifth overall respectively, ahead of Matheus Leist (Double R) and Ricky Collard (TRS Arden), who had started from the very back of the grid after his Saturday race retirement.
Dan Baybutt had looked set to collect eighth but was one of a gaggle of cars which rounded the chicane to find Ticktum’s ever-slowing car ahead of them. Avoiding action had to be taken and in the scrum Baybutt’s JTR car came to grief in the gravel. Eighth thus went the way of Rafael Martins’ SWB Motorsport car, with Jack Butel ninth for JHR and Ollie Pidgley claiming his first top-10 finish for Richardson Racing. The depleted finishing order was completed by Petru Florescu (Carlin) and Louise Richardson (Richardson Racing).
Ricky, whose TRS Arden car started third on the grid behind Ticktum’s Fortec machine and Carlin man Norris, was on a mission from the outset, seizing second place from Norris as they headed into the Hairpin on the opening lap. Thanks to his anticipated start, Ticktum was already 1.6s ahead by the end of lap one, and he built his advantage over Collard to two seconds before answering his summons for a drive-through.
Herta passed his team-mate Norris for second on lap four and proved an unshakeable presence in Collard’s mirrors, not least when the Safety Car was called into play after a ninth-lap clash of wheels at the Hairpin between Petru Florescu and Josh Smith left Florescu’s car stranded at the side of the track.
Collard gunned it at the restart on lap 13 but Herta misjudged and slipped back, allowing Ricky to extend the lead to a useful, but far from comfortable, 0.8s. By lap 18 Collard was 1.4s in front and looking set for victory – and then on the penultimate tour he made a mistake through Hislop’s which allowed his American rival to close right in once again. A do-or-die final lap secured the win for Ricky.
Said Ricky: “I dropped a wheel on the apex on the entry and that cost me really badly. I was pushing so hard to try to get the point for fastest lap. That lap was going really well and then all of a sudden… It gave me a bit of a kick and I asked myself what I thought I was doing! I knew then that I really had to go hard at it on the final lap. The first race of this weekend was a bit of a disaster for me but I think in the future I will be able to look back on Knockhill and know I gave it 100 per cent.”
Herta knew where he had lost the battle: “If I hadn’t messed up the restart I would have had a chance… I didn’t remember where the safety car would be pulling in – I thought it was further up the track. When I realised it was too late.”
From sixth on the grid, Sennan Fielding (JHR Developments) moved into fourth place on the second lap and, with Ticktum’s penalty, he collected third place and a hat-trick of Knockhill podium visits. Said Sennan: “What a weekend: I can’t really believe I’ve had three podiums. We’ve not had the outright pace here but it just shows that it’s not always about pace. Now the championship has closed up a lot and I’m looking forward to the next three events.”
Collard’s TRS Arden team-mate Enaam Ahmed continued his strong run of recent form to take fourth and the Rookie class victory. Said Enaam after completing his hat-trick of top-five overall finishes: “It’s been a really good weekend – all top-five finishes – and I’m really happy and looking forward to taking it on to Rockingham. I had a good battle with Sennan but he defended really well and I couldn’t pass him.”
Scottish driver Sandy Mitchell was another beaming Arden man with a trio of top-five results, this time fifth at his home circuit, just ahead of SWB Motorsport’s Rafael Martins. Norris finished a subdued seventh, a couple of tenths in front of Ticktum, with Louise Richardson (Richardson Racing) claiming ninth and Fortec’s Josh Smith completing the top 10. The remaining finishers were Matheus Leist, who started from pit lane after pre-start technical dramas, Ollie Pidgley, Jack Butel and Jessica Hawkins.
Joining Florescu in retirement were Day Baybutt, Tarun Reddy (after a clash with Ticktum and a high-speed bounce through the gravel) and James Pull, who suffered a broken wheel on the green flag lap.
Provisional results Knockhill 23 August 2015
Round 20: 19 laps / 24.07 miles
1 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 18m 52.111s / 76.54mph
2 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +0.722s
3 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec +1.498s
4 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden +3.076s
5 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden +3.438s
6 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R +3.827s
7 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden +4.353s
8 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB +6.851s
9 Jack BUTEL / GBR / JHR +8.949s
10 Ollie PIDGLEY / GBR / Richardson +11.315s etc
Fastest lap Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec 50.423s / 90.45mph
Rookie class 1 Smith; 2 Mitchell; 3 Ahmed; 4 Martins; 5 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin
Round 21: 20 laps / 25.34 miles
1 COLLARD 17m 57.031s / 84.69mph
2 HERTA +0.656s
3 FIELDING +3.413s
4 AHMED +3.851s
5 MITCHELL +4.459s
6 MARTINS +7.160s
7 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin +8.895s
8 TICKTUM +9.141s
9 Louise RICHARDSON / GBR / Richardson +12.334s
10 SMITH +13.864s etc
Fastest lap Herta 50.389s / 90.51mph
Rookie class 1 Ahmed; 2 Mitchell; 3 Martins; 4 Ticktum; 5 Smith
Provisional championship standings
1 Collard 275; 2 Norris 271; 3 Fielding 233; 4 Ticktum 217; 5 Herta 207; 6 Leist 179; 7 Mitchell 141; 8 James Pull 97; 9 Ahmed 95; 10 Tarun Reddy 80 etc
Rookie class 1 Ticktum 352; 2 Ahmed 275; 3 Mitchell 272; 4 Petru Florescu 239; 5 Daniel Baybutt 234 etc