2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of the start of the Formula Ford category in Australia.
To kick off a very significant for what is our sport’s most popular and competitive open wheel category a massive field of Kent engine powered cars assembled for 3 races on The Mountain at the end of January. WA entries accounted for an impressive 10 cars, although unfortunately Rob Appleyard and Peter Major were ultimately unable to get to the meeting. That left 8 drivers representing WA, runners and riders being –
- John Van Leeuwen Van Diemen RF 80 Simon Matthews Royale RP 29
- Daniel Gate Stealth S3K Tom Hamlett Stealth Rf 93
- Homan Ho Stealth Jason Youd Van Diemen RDF 92
- Austin Pearson Van Diemen RF 01 Josh Matthews Van Diemen/Stealth
Here’s how our fellow Club Members went day by day.
Tuesday: Pete Major’s truck – driven by Brett and Teresa Lupton – and its contents of 4 cars arrived safe at Bathurst to very hot conditions on the Mountain. A short time later the Fastlane container loaded with 6 more Formula Fords arrived and the unpacking began.
Wednesday: Big day on prepping all the cars under the supervision of Brett Lupton and John Van Leeuwen while the drivers did a track walk (or hike if you like) of the challenging 6.2 Km, of one of the toughest race circuits in the world. Of the 8 WA racers only Austin Pearson had raced previously at Bathurst (in his Formula Vee 1600).
Thursday was the busiest day on the schedule with practise, qualifying and Race 1.
Practise: Went without a hitch except for Austin Pearson who lost his engine on the first lap. Dan Gate was the highest on the results in P12.
Qualifying: After a quick phone call to Pete Major for his (generous) permission to use his Van Diemen/Stealth, Austin made it out for qualifying. All went well with most of the WA troupe moving up from practise. Dan Gate qualified the best in 4th from Josh Matthews (7th), Tom Hamlett (9th) and Homan (10th). John Van Leeuwen lead the Fb Historic entry.
Race 1: Dan struggled to get off the line and fell back, then when fighting through the field he had a coming together and finished 33rd. Tom finished 7th, Homan in 11th, Jason in 12th. Austin Pearson came from the back (45 competitors) to finish 18th. Josh Matthews didn’t finish, some quick analysis afterwards revealed that a brand new ignition module of Josh’s car was faulty. John won the Fb class.
Friday Race 2: Tom had a good race, moving up to 2nd at one point and finished in 4th. Dan had another bad start that saw him at the very back of 45 cars but had an astonishing run, fighting his way back to 12th. Austin had a great race as well moving up the field to finish 8th. Jason Youd crashed on lap one and Homan had a throttle problem and had to pit whilst John won his class again.
Saturday Race 3: Tom got a great start and was in 3rd by turn 2 and moved into 2nd on the first run down Conrod. Tom and Jayden Ojeda continued to swap places from 1st to 2nd until Ojeda crashed into the wall at Forrest’s Elbow. Austin had another great race finishing in 5th. Dan had a problem with the electronic kill switch and was unable to continue with the race. Jason Youd was put out by another competitor running to the back of him during a safety car. Homan had a steady drive and finished 11th and John completed the trifecta with Simon Matthews 3rd in the class.
The weekend finished with some very happy WA drivers, Tom was second in the modern category with Austin 3rd and Homan 6th and John won the Historic Fb class.
Most of the Fastlane cars are now back in Perth getting ready for the 50th Anniversary event whilst the Van Leeuwen Motorsport machines are headed straight to Phillip Island Classic on March 8/9/10.