BRSCC FF1600: Murray Marches Toward Indy
 April 25, 2016| 
  • Feeder Series
SILVERSTONE, England – The BRSCC’s Avon Tyres National Formula Ford 1600 Championship rolled into Silverstone – the self-proclaimed “Home of British Motorsport” – for the third and fourth rounds of the series on April 23 when the International Layout was utilised.

After a frustrating first meeting of the season at Oulton Park when he was tipped into a spin at the first corner of Race One, Niall Murray bounced back in Northamptonshire where he set fastest lap in qualifying and then took a brace of victories. Only being beaten to fastest lap in the first contest prevented him from taking a maximum haul of points. Nonetheless, he has leap-frogged to the top of the championship standings and, although there still a large portion of the series still to play out, he must surely have one eye on winning the title so that he can qualify for the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout and get the opportunity to compete for the US$200,000 scholarship to contest the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Prior to qualifying, Murray was Mr Cool. He knew it was a long session and did not disturb his focus by rushing out on the track, although delays in cars getting through the noise testing process did raise his heart rate a little. Once up to speed, Murray’s Bernard Dolan Motorsport Van Diemen RF99 got embroiled in a battle for pole with the Cliff Dempsey Racing Ray GR15/16 of James Raven, the early pace-setter who suffered from oversteer in the closing stages of the 20-minute session when the track was at its fastest. His fortunes changed when his final lap was a quick one although it was 0.15 seconds from Murray’s best.

Once the red lights went out for the opening encounter these two front row starters provided spectators with a fantastic battle for the lead. On the long straights of Silverstone, drafting is a key strategic weapon and Dolan had given his driver prior coaching about it not being such a good thing to be leading on the final lap. Therefore, when Raven pulled alongside Murray with a few laps to go, the Irishman did not defend his position against his English opponent too robustly.

On the final circuit,  all went to plan for Murray. A tow from Raven down the Hanger Straight allowed him to claim the inside for Stowe Corner from where there was no opportunity to get the lead back. Third was Stuart Gough, the 2014 champion stepping into the Oldfield Motorsport Van Diemen DP08 driven at Oulton Park by Jonny McMullan.

There was some doubt as to whether Murray was going to do the double when a poor start saw him slip down to fourth place, but he soon recovered to challenge the leader Raven, who then gifted him the win when he locked up his rear wheels at Stowe and ran wide on lap 2. Murray had a three-second advantage at this stage but even then it was not all plain sailing. A number of cars blew their engines and the tarmac was given a liberal coating of oil. Raven was coping best with the slippery surface in the closing stages but Murray held his nerve to take the flag first. Gough once again completed the podium.

Rounds 5 and 6 of the series will be staged across the North Sea in Holland at the Zandvoort Circuit as part of the Marcel Albers Trophy Meeting on May 14/15.

Words by Dave Williams
Photo courtesy of Rachel Bourne/Bourne Photographic
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