Benn’s brilliant start in maiden Merlyn win

Benn Tilley
Benn Tilley

Bourne race ace Benn Tilley toasted a maiden victory in his 1971 Merlyn Mk20a Formula Ford in a stunning start to the new season.

Tilley won the opening race in the first round of the Classic Formula Ford Championship which was held at Silverstone.

He then collected second spot in the next race to make a fantastic start in what he hopes will be a successful season.

Tilley said: “I maintained a constant pace in the first race which enabled me to win the race outright and win Class B. It was my first outright win in the Merlyn.

“The second race turned into the best race I have ever had. The finishing position was not to be decided until I made a last chance effort around the outside on the last corner which gave me second place overall and a class win.

“This was a fantastic way to start the season. Hopefully the rest of the year brings more success and great racing.”

The first qualifying session of the season started with a wet track which made finding the fastest way around the circuit difficult and it took a couple of laps to get used to where the grip was.

As the session went on, the track conditions gradually got better and better and Tilley managed to qualify second overall, one-tenth of a second behind first. The top seven were covered by nine-tenths of a second.

Race one started with a track that was still slightly damp in places but a dry racing line. The first few laps were hard fought and places swopped on almost every corner with one car or another.

After an incident in front, Tilley managed to nip past the spinning cars to take the race lead which he held until the finish.

Race two got off to a good start with Tilley battling with the second place man.

A race-long battle with Formula Ford legend Rick Morris (the only man to beat Ayrton Senna outright in a Formula Ford) and head driving instructor at Silverstone Mark Armstrong ensured until Tilley’s late move secured second spot.