FIRST PODIUM FOR JURCZAK!
Despite growing up just down the road from Queensland's Willowbank Raceway, Ben Jurczak had never competed on the 'paperclip' circuit prior to last weekend's round of the Genuine Ford Parts Australian Formula Ford Championship. This was also only his 4th CAMS car racing event and he approached it in his usual no fuss manner.
"Without knowing the track, I just wanted to get laps in practice and work on the data with my team mate Ash (Walsh) and engineer Mike (Borland)," said Ben; adding "I was really surprised at how bumpy it is, but we worked away and tried to improve with each session." He did just that, turning 12th in the combined practices into 6th in qualifying, just half a second off the fastest time.
The first race saw Ben take 5th place in the SES Linear and King's Fibreglass supported Spectrum 012, backed up on Sunday with a pair of 3rd places. Significantly, he set the 2nd fastest lap in race two and the fastest lap in the final race on Sunday afternoon. The consistent performance built a points tally which placed him 2nd for the round and moves him into the Rookie of the Year lead.
"I'm really amazed to be on the podium this weekend," he beamed. "We came here looking for a top 10 result, so this is just awesome. I am really disappointed for my team mate Ash, as he was in a strong position until he was taken out of the final race. He's been fantastic in helping me learn to drive Formula Ford and I've been able to get up to speed much faster thanks to him," he added.
Displaying a level of maturity way beyond his 16 years of age, Ben is keeping his feet firmly planted on the ground. "The weekend was an amazing result for me, taking 2nd for the round and moving into 4th in the Championship; but it doesn't change our approach to the year. This year is about learning and our priority is Rookie of the Year. I'm pleased with how I drove and very pleased with the results, but I also know that we had things go our way as well. That doesn't happen every weekend in motorsport!" he said.
After such a momentous weekend, it seems certain that this young man has a stellar career in motorsport ahead of him. But nothing could be further from the truth. A common theme for young drivers is that a lack of access to the support necessary to develop their career sees them miss their opportunity. Ben's 2010 Formula Ford season is far from certain even at this early stage. He is extremely appreciative of the support of SES Linear, King's Fibreglass, his family and Borland Racing Developments which has allowed him to compete to this point, but he does not have the funding for the whole season, let alone next year and the years after that.
"Ben's story isn't new," said BRD's Paul Zsidy. "But his ability, maturity and commitment set him apart from his peers. We're all working very hard to secure the support Ben needs to build a strong and lucrative career as a professional driver and have a range of sponsorship and investment opportunities for anyone who is interested. I'm confident we will get him there; I'm originally a Queenslander and know how Queenslanders are supportive of their own. There are numerous major businesses in the area surrounding Ben's home at Forest Lakes and I'm sure at least one of them can see the huge benefits available to them in getting behind a local superstar!" he said.