FF1600 teams re­ject new se­ries for­mat

“Ti­tle fight will be close af­ter F4 punch-up”

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

BRSCC For­mula Ford 1600 Na­tional Cham­pi­onship or­gan­is­ers have dis­cussed re­duc­ing the cham­pi­onship to four fes­ti­val-style rounds next sea­son, a move that has been panned by teams.

The cham­pi­onship, which op­er­ates across both the Post ’89 and Pre ’90 classes, cur­rently runs across eight rounds with each fea­tur­ing a dou­ble-header race for­mat.

How­ever, a new pro­posal has been put for­ward by the new For­mula Ford Fo­cus Group, which has tabled a four-round for­mat with each round be­ing mod­elled on knock­out events such as the For­mula Ford Fes­ti­val or Walter Hayes Tro­phy, which them­selves could form two of the four rounds.

The idea would al­low driv­ers and teams to com­pete in re­gional FF1600 se­ries, and then come to­gether to fight it out for the Na­tional ti­tle.

Fo­cus Group chair­man Ian Wolfenden said: “I was test­ing the wa­ter [with the idea]. Our fol­low­ing at the fes­ti­vals is huge and by mak­ing our cal­en­dar re­volve around it we could have a cal­en­dar of fes­ti­vals and draw on that fol­low­ing.

“I fully un­der­stand why for some teams it doesn’t make sense for them but when you look at the Na­tional Pre ’90 field and see five reg­u­lar com­peti­tors and some round-by-round en­trants we need to do some­thing dif­fer­ent.”

The idea has re­ceived the thumbs down from some top team bosses. Cliff Dempsey, whose epony­mous team runs mul­ti­ple cars, said: “Four rounds would kill For­mula Ford. I’d leave if that hap­pened. No-one would buy a seat or a new car if there’s only four rounds and we should be adding not tak­ing away.”

Old­field Motorsport boss James Old­field added the for­mat could work for pri­va­teer en­tries. He said: “The idea doesn’t work for me. Cus­tomers won’t want to race just four rounds so it doesn’t make sense com­mer­cially.

“I know though for some that en­ter them­selves and run them­selves it could work. There’s a huge range of driv­ers here and it’s not dom­i­nated by any kind. We need to en­sure there is bal­ance.”

It wasn’t quite Nel­son Pi­quet on Eliseo Salazar af­ter their col­li­sion in the 1982 Ger­man Grand Prix, but Petru Florescu’s brief brawl with Devlin De­francesco last week­end is cer­tainly a sig­nif­i­cant punch-up.

It’s a rare sight to see such raw emo­tion from a driver in the mod­ern era but as soon as Florescu clam­bered out of his Carlin car af­ter De­francesco squeezed him a bit too much on the pit straight there was no doubt­ing what would hap­pen next.

In full view of the ITV cam­eras, the Ro­ma­nian marched over to De­francesco and the punches flew.

Now, it was bad enough that two team-mates had col­lided – al­though it has hap­pened al­ready this year in F4 (think James Pull tip­ping Max Fewtrell into a roll at Thrux­ton and Ar­den duo Rafael Martins and Luis Leeds tak­ing each other out when fight­ing for the lead at Snet­ter­ton). But pub­lic fisticuffs is an ab­so­lute no-no. Es­pe­cially as De­francesco took full blame and later apol­o­gised.

In one mo­ment of mad­ness Florescu pressed the self-de­struct but­ton on his ti­tle hopes. His sub­se­quent ex­clu­sion from the meet­ing was fully jus­ti­fied and meant his im­pres­sive race one vic­tory was erased from the records.

In­stead of leav­ing Scot­land with, po­ten­tially, an in­creased points lead he now finds him­self down in sixth in the stand­ings.

While he’s still far from out of con­tention, the in­ci­dent has set up a fas­ci­nat­ing ti­tle show­down.

Just nine races re­main – but that’s still 225 points up for grabs – and any one of the top six is ca­pa­ble of claim­ing the crown.

Fewtrell now has the ad­van­tage but is only 30 points clear of Florescu in sixth, with Leeds, De­francesco, Sen­nan Field­ing and Pull all in be­tween.

Pick­ing a win­ner from that bunch is a near im­pos­si­ble task.

Fewtrell has proven to be the most con­sis­tent with more podi­ums than any­one else (10) but has taken just one win. Leeds has the sup­port of Dr Hel­mut Marko/red Bull and is com­ing on strong.

De­francesco had a poor start to the sea­son, while Field­ing has been in­con­sis­tent but has the ex­pe­ri­ence to tri­umph. Pull has yet to win in the se­ries but re­mains in the mix while Florescu still has the most wins of them all.

It has all the hall­marks of go­ing down to the wire at Brands Hatch in Oc­to­ber.

That could be one good thing to emerge from an in­ci­dent that shouldn’t have a place in motorsport.

Field­ing is one of six driv­ers in con­tention

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