The 2014 Australian Formula Ford Series kicked off at Round 2 of the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals at Mallala Motorsport Park with close and clean racing ensuing all weekend.
The series start heralds the new direction for the premier Formula Ford competition in Australia that has undergone a restructure during the off season that has focused on making the series more affordable for competitors.
A large, quality field of 19 Formula Fords and 3 Formula Ford 1600 cars made the trek to the open spaces of Mallala Motorsport Park, with many having their first view of the challenging circuit during the Friday practice sessions.
Qualifying was a typical Formula Ford session with lap times very close. With the wind changing strength throughout the session, teams were busy refining car setups to suit the conditions.
James Golding on his way to another win. Photo courtesy of Nathan Wong / Shannons Nationals
Times at the front of the field were close but Hamish Hardeman, in his Mygale chassis, took pole by 0.28 of a second, with the following 3 cars of James Golding, Nick Rowe and Luke Parsons spread by less than 1 100th of a second.
In Formula Ford 1600, James Garley dominated in his Mygale from Michael Hinrichs and Jimmy Bailey in third.
Race one was set to be a close affair across the field. James Golding jumped from the starting blocks to take the lead which continued to the flag with Rowe and Hardeman completing the minor podium positions. In taking the win Golding also broke the Formula Ford lap record with the next 5 drivers also under the previous mark.
James Garley held off fellow team mate in Michael Hindrichs to take Formula Ford 1600 honours.
Golding did not have his own way in race two with Rowe taking the lead on the opening lap but for Golding to regain it on lap 4 and hold it till the end. Rowe dropped to sixth on lap 5 and subsequently DNF’d on lap 11. The only safety car for the weekend came on lap 6 when Christian Morina and Tom Grech came together at the turn 6 northern hairpin. Both cars were damaged and unable to continue. Jordan Lloyd took advantage of the tussles ahead and moved from racing throughout the field with numerous drivers involved in multicar tussles.
James Garley again had his Formula Ford 1600 mirrors full of the Hinrich’s Mygale. He successfully held him at bay, even after a very optimistic attempt of late braking that saw Hinrichs take the lead for a moment before heading off circuit but to rejoin holding second place to Bailey in third.
Race 3 provided a great example of close and clean Formula Ford racing that kept the spectators entertained. Golding again started on pole but a poor start saw him drop to second place behind Jordan Lloyd. For the next ten laps a scarp for the top four positions ensued. Golding was being held up by Lloyd who was fighting fairly to keep him at bay.
Thomas Randle and Hamish Hardemen joined in the scrap all fighting to move forward in the rankings. Golding maintained the pressure on Lloyd trying to create an opportunity to get past. On the penultimate lap, Golding passed Lloyd whilst Randle joined the fight. Randle’s last ditched attempts on the final lap lead to him clashing wheels with Lloyd sending him off track and into fourth position. Golding secured the win making it a clean sweep for the round followed by the hard charging Hardeman in second and Lloyd in third.
Driving for the factory Spectrum team under the guidance of Formula Ford guru and car designer Michael Borland, James Golding proved that he will be one to watch in this years national series.
“Thankfully we had a pretty flawless weekend which can put down to a great car setup. After making some changes in practice our car setup stayed pretty constant and I just focused on my driving”, said a delighted Golding.
James Garley followed in the footsteps of Golding by once again holding off the advances of Hinrichs and Bailey to secure a round triple treat. With the number of Formula Ford 1600 cars to rise over the coming rounds, Garley is set for more battles but the Victorian State Racing regular who has made the jump to national level racing is definitely the man to beat in 2014.
The 2014 Australian Formula Ford Series heads to Winton Motorsport Park on 13-15 June for the 2nd round of the series where even a larger grid will amass to continue the on track battles.