Cliff Dempsey racing, now in business for over 25 years, are acknowledged as the FF1600 experts in the UK. Regardless of who is in the cars, they are generally at the pointy end of the grid. This is to take nothing away from the drivers- the best drivers usually end up with the best teams- but the Irish team fired a warning shot across the bows of their rivals at Oulton Park at the weekend.
UK FF1600 has always been competitive but this year, with a Ticket To Indy up for grabs for the BRSCC’s Avon Tires National Formula Ford 1600 Championship it is, if anything, even more so. A host of competitive drivers have entered the series and they are joined by 5 drivers from this side of the water, all with superb pedigree.
Niall Murray has undoubted pace, and is always great to watch. Having tested well at Oulton a few weeks previously, he was on top form on the Friday, topping the timesheets despite a few track limit dramas. He was confident enough to sit out the final practise session on the morning of the race and then claimed pole, an impressive three tenths ahead of the closely matched pack. Contact at turn one sent Murray spinning right to the back but true to form, he charged back up through the grid. This left Doug Crosbie in the lead but he was soon passed by CDR’s James Raven, the former Festival winner making no mistakes on the way to a strong win and an early championship lead. Murray, meanwhile scrambled back to sixth, despite clipping the tyres and losing some bodywork at Hislops chicane! Jonny McMullan drove well to take fourth for Oldfield Motorsport.
CDR’s Chase Owen had snatched the runner up spot in race one on the final tour, to make it a 1-2 for Cliff’s Ray mounted team, and it was he who made the running in a wet second race, taking the flag well clear of the rest and finishing his day with a 10 point series lead. Crosbie fought off McMullan for second with Murray in fourth. Raven made a bad start and eventually crossed the line in seventh.
MI Young Driver Jake Byrne had a weekend he would rather forget, a few issues limiting his running on Friday and leaving him to play catch up during the two races. Jordan Dempsey had brake issues in both races but clinched a top ten finish on the final lap of race two, having shown good pace, in what is a closely matched field. James Roe had shown flashes of real pace, being third quickest in the final practise session on Saturday morning but a blown engine ended his day early. In short, lots of potential from the Irish drivers but not a whole lot in terms of results. As I said at the start, CDR are the FF1600 experts. They have got the jump on the rest- can anyone catch them?
Rounds 3&4 of the BRSCC’s Avon Tires National Formula Ford 1600 Championship take place at Silverstone on April 23rd.
BRSCC FF1600 Championship Standings after 2 Rounds:
Chase OWEN 61
Douglas CROSBIE 51
James RAVEN 47
Jonny MCMULLAN 46
Niall MURRAY 44
Cavan CORCORAN 38
Jake BYRNE 27
Chris MIDDLEHURST 20
Matthew COWLEY 18
David MCARTHUR 17
Jordan DEMPSEY 13
Patrik PASMA 10
Luke COOPER 10
Martin SHORT 10
Vincent JAY 5
Matthew CHISHOLM 5
Tom MCARTHUR 5
Daniel OBEIRNE 5
Rounds 1 & 2 April 9th Oulton Park International
Rounds 3 & 4 April 23rd/24th Silverstone International
Rounds 5 & 6 May 14th/15th Zandvoort
Rounds 7 & 8 June 11th/12th Rockingham
Rounds 9 & 10 July 9th/10th Brands Hatch Indy
Rounds 11 & 12 August 6th/7th Anglesey International
Rounds 13 & 14 August 27th/28th Donington National
Rounds 15 & 16 September 10th/11th Croft