Following the first couple of flat-out dominate victories for PA Motorsports, and driver Darren Burke, in the Historic Formula Ford Series, suspicious eyes began to leer. After team owner Peter Alexander notched his fifth straight win, even formerly rational competitors began to snap their petcocks.
Lead driver for PA Motorsports, Darren Burke, piloting the Macon race car.
"Almost right from the first race rumors started that we are running a 'big' engine, mainly because we were getting pole position by quite some margin and our race pace was similar. We have set new lap records at every circuit we have been to so far, even despite carrying an additional 19 kg (43 lbs) of ballast on the car, because a new driver and car weight was introduced for this season," clarifies Alexander.
It all came to a head at the historic Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk, England, when paddock rumors peaked. After the race Alexander's Macon was directed into the scrutineering-bay, something Alexander felt certain would happen. The team was asked to have their differential sealed, to which Alexander eagerly agreed.
"The scrutineers looked at me in a funny way and I explained about the number of rumors I had heard. The scrut's confirmed that they had had their ears bent by a few of our opposition too, so I said, well; while you're sealing the diff can you seal the engine too? I must be the first Team owner to ask for his own engine to be sealed."
"Autosport magazine found it amusing too and ran the story this week. I'm hoping that we can get the diff and the engine checked before the next round at Mallory, so we can go there with everyone knowing we are legal."
We wondered if the Macon was really that much faster than everyone else, or if Burke was in some ludicrously proficient zone, or what was up?
"It's a bit of both," admits Alexander. "I have put a lot of time and effort into the car but Darren is also using it properly. We trust each other totally, he lets me put the set-up on the car I think is right, and I let him get on and drive it. We work really well together and it's nice that he has said it is the best car he has ever driven. He has said that even if he moves on to greater things, he still wants to come back and drive the car for selected races."
Alexander says that the team would love to set the lap record at every single circuit. Currently the Macon holds six outright HFF lap records, more than any other marquee in the Historic Formula Ford Series. If it rains at a particular circuit that they haven't set the lap record on, the team intends on returning next year and nailing it.
Driver Darren Burke has been disappointed with the rumors that the team is only going so fast because they're cheating, he wonders why they refuse to recognize his skill in this historic accomplishment.
"I have to keep telling him that it is a good thing that people are saying these things because 'A' - they don't think the times we are doing can be done and 'B' - if they are worrying about us, they aren't focusing on their own cars and set-up. I just hope that some key people notice what we are achieving together," says Alexander.
Alexander continues, "To be honest I think a lot of them are just bewildered and don't know where to look first for the additional pace. We are visiting a lot of circuits that Darren has never ever been to before and he still produces the goods. A classic example was Oulton Park last year, Darren had never been there, yet on his fourth lap of testing, he was significantly under the lap record. It would be nice to get some recognition for our preparation and set-up as well as the Macon cars, as I still get told that to compete in Historic Formula Ford Series, you have to have a Merlyn."
There are still a few races left for PA Motorsports, including the one at Spa, however Alexander and Burke are extremely confident in the car as well as the driver.
"The more races we win the more I start panicking though that something silly is going to break on the car and spoil our unbeaten run," says Alexander.
"All it takes is a throttle cable to snap for instance. The more we win, and the more lap records we get, the more time I'm spending on the car. We have worked on every area of the car and the support from K&N Filters has been a big help. We are using the K&N products on all of our team cars and we have found significant gains in every one, and in a low powered Formula like, Formula Ford, every little thing makes a difference."
The next round of the HSCC Historic Formula Ford is at Mallory Park on Sunday 20th June. PA Motorsport / K&N Filters and Darren Burke currently lead the Championship by 40 points.
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