After a hard afternoon’s racing last weekend – in which he’d taken a well-deserved third place – the newly crowned series champion pulled into parc fermé. Clambering out of the car, he punched the air victoriously. His dominant season has made motor sport history. Thousands of miles away at Suzuka, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was celebrating in similar fashion.
Scott Malvern, the 2011 British Formula Ford Champion, has rewritten the series’ history books this year. Not too shabby considering previous champions include Messrs A Senna and J Button. Having switched to series powerhouse Jamun Racing during the off-season, Malvern has taken a staggering 18 British FFord victories from 24 races on his way to overall glory.
The young Briton’s consistency was epitomised during the summer when he took the top spot of the podium 11 times on the bounce. Only victory for Dutchman Joey van Splunteren at Zandvoort prevented Malvern extending his run. But since guest driver van Splunteren was ineligible for championship points, it was Malvern who again took the maximum score. Put simply, from late April to early September, only Malvern received the winners’ trophy and only once did anybody else outscore him.
Having missed the title in 2010 by a single point – his consistency ironically costing him on this occasion as series regulations decreed each competitor dropped their worst two results – the laurels were Malvern’s for the taking this season and were wrapped up with a meeting to spare.
That’s not to say his championship run has been without incident, though. Having posted his first-ever series retirement at the opening event at Silverstone in April, Malvern posted his second DNF in the next race when his Mygale chassis was launched into the air at high speed, courtesy of Australian Geoff Urhane’s rear wheel and a misjudged braking point. On the series’ return to Northamptonshire last weekend, ill luck once again plagued Malvern when engine failure sidelined him in race one.
Though these maladies deprived the Jamun mechanics of a good night’s sleep on several occasions, they did provide a platform for 2011’s other championship ‘contenders’ to flex their racing muscles at the Silverstone finale.
Having survived his contretemps with Malvern at the same track six months earlier to score a maiden British FFord victory, JTR driver Urhane took another (very) hard-fought win after rebuffing incessant pressure from no less than six cars, each slipstreaming their way past the other as they vied for the top spot. More than once, three cars were side-by-side across the finish line heading into Copse.
Though Malvern returned to winning ways in the second race, his Jamun Racing stablemate Jeroen Slaghekke and Urhane made it far from easy, as did the changeable wet-dry-wet conditions. Falling short of victory by just over half a second, Slaghekke’s turn on the top step was saved for the final race following the Dutchman’s Herculean scrap with both Urhane and Malvern. In the closing stages, the lead between the three swapped at almost every turn. It was certainly a fitting send-off for Ford’s iconic single-seater ahead of the debut of its new-for-2012 Ecoboost homologation.
Having circulated his CV around the Formula Renault and F2 paddocks, Malvern surely makes his way to pastures new next year. The Brit has worked hard to earn his success, and even though his climb up the motor sport ladder is far from over, he intends to savour this time at the top. “It’s been a fantastic year for me,” he said. “It was a risk staying in [Formula Ford] for another year, but it’s paid off and I’m incredibly happy. I think we did the right thing.” Few would disagree.
By James Gent