Thompson targets next challenge
PUBLISHED: 11:00 30 May 2014
Hornchurch teen gearing up for Oulton Park
For Hornchurch teenager Bobby Thompson the last two years have been something of a blur as he looks ahead to his next challenge at Oulton Park in Cheshire.
From the peak of junior karting in the Lewis Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone-backed Formula Kart Stars Championship in 2012, the 17 year-old now finds himself racing in front of 30,000 spectators and a live terrestrial TV audience in the British Formula Ford Championship.
The series counts Ayrton Senna and Jenson Button among its previous champions and Thompson, who continues to support the Caudwell Children’s Charity through his racing, said: “It has been an incredible start to the season.
“Three months ago I never dreamt I would be doing Formula Ford, but once the opportunity came up we desperately want to finish the season.”
Having begun 2014 with his eyes on the JAM Sport Ford Fiesta Championship, Thompson, who is a brand ambassador for Nicky Grist’s Stilo Helmets Company, was fearful a lack of sponsorship might curtail his campaign.
But a last-minute call from Meridian Motorsport changed the course of his year, and possibly his career.
Swapping his Fiesta for one of Meridian’s Mygale Formula Ford single-seater cars Thompson was thrust into the midst of the ultra popular British Touring Car Championship support package, the most popular race series in the UK.
“Trying to describe the buzz of being in the BTCC paddock is impossible,” he added, having scored four scholarship class podium finishes from his first six starts.
“You are surrounded by your racing heroes and the crowds are just unreal. There were 30,000 people at Donington Park and even more at Thruxton and with the ITV cameras everywhere you feel like you are part of something special.”
With three races taking place each weekend, Bobby is currently competing on a round-by-round basis as he searches for sponsorship.
But the fact every race is on terrestrial TV and his stunning results at Donington and Thruxton, where he lapped the Hampshire circuit at an average speed of 115mph and hit more than 140mph on the fastest parts of the track, leaves the newly qualified ARDS Racing Instructor confident of securing the backing he needs.
“Obviously Formula Ford is a step up from the Fiesta I’m used to, but it isn’t as expensive as people think,” he said.
“This championship has been running for nearly 40 years and has seen drivers like Senna, Button, Eddie Irvine and Johnny Herbert come through it so I know I am in the right place.
“Plus I am surrounded by so many of my touring car heroes it is the perfect place to get noticed. If I wasn’t racing on the same package as them I’d be here watching and asking for their autographs!
“As a team we know we haven’t got the budget to do as much testing as many of our rivals so we simply have to maximise what we’ve got.
“I’m up against some top names like Sam Brabham, grandson of the late Sir Jack Brabham and Ricky Collard, whose dad Rob is one of the top touring car drivers in the country and I’m already holding my own against them and I’ll only get quicker as the season goes on.”
The next rounds of the British Formula Ford Championship take place at Oulton Park on June 7-8.
Sponsorship packages for Thompson are available for as little as £500 and you can follow his racing activities on Twitter @BTMotorsport.