Motor Sport News - - Racing News - By Jack Cozens

Ralph Fir­man Rac­ing driver Luke Wil­liams be­lieves de­vel­op­ments to the new RFFF16 will put the car in a po­si­tion to “dom­i­nate” Oc­to­ber’s For­mula Ford Fes­ti­val after a re­cent up­turn in form.

The new RFFF16 is mid-way through its maiden sea­son of rac­ing, be­ing the first fresh For­mula Ford de­sign from Van Diemen founder Fir­man since 1998. With lim­ited test­ing be­fore the start of the sea­son, the new car was blighted by prob­lems on its de­but at Oul­ton Park in April, with first cus­tomer Wil­liams suf­fer­ing gear­box is­sues.

De­spite com­plet­ing a sec­ond car for James Roe, progress re­mained slow – with a third ma­chine, in which 2015 Wal­ter Hayes Tro­phy win­ner Gra­ham Car­roll had ex­pected to con­test a full cam­paign, yet to be com­pleted.

But Wil­liams twice fin­ished on the podium at the Na­tional FF1600 round at Brands Hatch in July, which also co­in­cided with a switch from a Scholar to a Bold en­gine, and team boss Ralph Fir­man said he ex­pected more progress soon.

“The big­gest prob­lem was the en­gine – we just couldn’t hold them to­gether,” said Fir­man, who co-founded the Van Diemen mar­que.

“The car was al­ways go­ing to come to­gether late, but we should have been able to go to Oul­ton with­out prob­lems. I think the car is get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter. There are al­ready ar­eas where it’s stronger than the oth­ers.”

De­spite play­ing down the ef­fect of swap­ping en­gines, Wil­liams was bullish about the car’s chances of be­ing at the front come the end of sea­son Fes­ti­val and Wal­ter Hayes Tro­phy blue riband events. “First time out, the car felt like it had po­ten­tial, but some prob­lems were bound to hap­pen,” said Wil­liams. “We switched to Bold [en­gines] be­fore Brands Hatch but only for the rest of 2016 – we’re still talk­ing with Scholar. It seems too easy to blame the en­gine. “Had the car been ready three months ear­lier and tested, we might have been in bet­ter shape to fight at the start of the year. “I think if you give us un­til the Fes­ti­val, we’ve a good chance of dom­i­nat­ing. We’ve only started to get over the early is­sues and haven’t added up­dates, but the tweaks we’ve made have had an im­pact.” Car­roll has been told his ma­chine will be ready to test be­fore the next Na­tional round at An­gle­sey on Au­gust 6/7, with a view to com­pet­ing there.

Pho­tos: Jakob Ebrey, Gary Hawkins

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