MARTIN RELIVES THE FORMULA FORD MAGIC
Just two weeks after wrapping up the 2009 Superleague Formula championship in 10th place at Jarama in Spain, John Martin returned to his roots at the Island Magic meeting at the wheel of his 2005 Spectrum 010b Formula Ford 1600; and his scintillating drive through the field was rewarded with 1st FF1600 and 4th place outright in the Phillip Island Formula Ford Trophy.
The 2006 Australian Formula Ford Champion saw the event as a chance to have some fun, with 13 of the newer, more powerful Fiesta-engined cars entered; however he certainly wasn’t there to make up the numbers as qualifying proved.
In the opening qualifying session on Saturday, Martin was 13th fastest in the 20-car field with a time of 1m44.4544s, but he was the fastest Kent-engined car by 2.433s and 5.7143s off pole position.
The final qualifying session saw him lower the mark to 1m43.7198s for 12th and a 1.7553s margin over the next FF1600 car, albeit 5.5893s off pole.
“The car was good, but it is not as quick as it has been around here by a good margin because we are down a bit on straight line speed,” said Martin. “Nicki Templer has generously offered us her spare engine so we will put that in for tomorrow.”
With the replacement engine installed and wet weather to negate some of the Duratec cars’ horsepower advantage, Martin headed out for the five-lap Preliminary Race with a smile on his face. But it was not to be. “Unfortunately the car developed a misfire on my out lap for the preliminary race so I didn’t get to start,” he said.
By virtue of not starting the Preliminary Race, Martin lined up at the back of the grid for the 10-lap feature event, the Phillip Island Formula Ford Trophy. “We got the electrical problem sorted for the final and it looked like the track was going to be dry. It had been raining, then it dried out and everyone was on dry setups and the rain came again.”
At one of the fastest circuits in the country, with rain bucketing down, Martin was unfazed. After all in his eyes wet weather is an opportunity to demonstrate his incredible raw speed and car control. “I got a good start and had passed all the FF1600 cars by Turn 2,” said Martin in his typical, understated style.
The opening lap had seen the 25-year-old vault up the field to 8th! A lap later and it was 7th, then 6th on lap 3. “A couple of the Fiesta-engined cars had an incident and that brought out the Safety Car. By then it was really raining hard and the car was aquaplaning. While we were cruising around behind the Safety Car the misfire came back and I thought, ‘Oh no, here we go again.’ I was close to (Matthew) Brabham in third place at the time and the misfire cost me a heap of ground on the restart.”
“Thankfully it cleared up, but the Safety Car had stayed out too long and they shortened the race to 8 laps so I didn’t get a chance to have a run at him. Otherwise I think I could have been on the podium.”
“It has certainly been a fun weekend and brought back some great memories,” said Martin. “I would like to thank Mike Borland and Paul Zsidy of Borland Racing Developments for providing me with the opportunity to drive my 2005 Spectrum again.”
The Speco Thomas Phillip Island Formula Ford Trophy was won by Chaz Mostert (Spectrum 011b), from Geoff Uhrhane and Matthew Brabham (Spectrum 011d). John secured the Cooldrive Phillip Island Formula Ford Trophy for FF1600 cars, from Mark Samson in his first outing aboard his Spectrum 010b.