American Newgarden Wins British Formula Ford Opener
Josef Newgarden has exited the first-event of the 2009 MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain as a race winner, following a superb victory in Round Three on Monday (April 13) at the Oulton Park Race Circuit in England. That being said, it was up-and-down season-opening tripleheader, as the American standout battled through a start-line incident in Round One on Saturday (April 11), before rebounding to a third place finish and the race win in Rounds Two and Three.
For Newgarden, his inaugural season of European race competition commenced on Friday via official series testing at the demanding Oulton Park Race Circuit, just outside of Cheshire, England. Given the speed and skill he had shown in the lead-up to the first-event of the season, it came as no surprise that Newgarden was immediately among the drivers worth watching.
Piloting the No. 21 Robo-Pong/Racer of Tomorrow Ltd./Joe Tandy Racing Mygale SJ08 Premier Power car that became further apparent in the lone qualifying session on the 2.692-mile road course. Newgarden posted the fourth fastest time overall, earning an outside row-two starting position for both Rounds One and Two.
When the American returned to the cockpit a few hours later on Saturday afternoon, things however did not go according to plan. Unable to get away cleanly from the traditional standing start, the now Oxford-based driver was struck by another competitor. While Newgarden was able to briefly continue, the first race of the season ended prematurely on lap four due to the damage sustained from the incident.
Given the way Newgarden’s first race of the season in ended, combined with the fact that there was no racing on Easter Sunday, many would not have been surprised if the American was not in an ideal frame of mind entering Round Two on Monday morning. That was not the case however. While Newgarden took a cautious approach in the opening lap or two, he soon decided to turn up the wick, passing two cars in one corner to take over second place. Unfortunately, an ambitious move by another competitor resulted in Newgarden having to fall back to fourth rather than crash out. Remaining focused all the way to the checkered flag, the 18 year-old re-established himself as a one of the leading drivers in the highly competitive junior formula car series, taking home his first podium finish of the season, passing just before the checkered flag for a third place finish.
Newgarden, having now stood on the podium, was ready for more a few hours later, when the cars went back on-course for Round Three. Starting P2 in the final race of the tripleheader, the 2008 Formula Ford Festival race winner executed a perfect launch, vaulting into the lead before the completion of lap one. While Newgarden was initially able to establish a multi-car advantage, that vanished when the safety car was sent out for an incident deeper in the field.
On the ensuing re-start, Newgarden once again held off his determined pursuers, leading the field through the opening sequence of turns. Despite coming under constant pressure from some very talented drivers, and driving a car who’s setup was just a little off, Newgarden never put a wheel wrong, securing his inaugural MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain win by 0.321s.
“"The entire weekend was a huge roller-coaster of events beginning with Friday morning practice all the way through to the final race on Monday,” stated Newgarden. “I was hoping to perform a clean sweep this weekend, which I certainly believe we had the tools to do so. Nonetheless, I'm extremely happy for the team to that we have left with a strong podium finish and a win. I'm really looking forward to the next round of the championship, to even better our results and establish ourselves as the leading force."
Newgarden and the entire Joe Tandy Racing team now have a brief break until April 25-26, when Rounds Four, Five and Six will be conducted at Donington Park Race Circuit. Newgarden enters the second event of the season, sixth in the title chase, a one point adrift of fifth place.