Reigning Avon Tyres Northern Formula Ford 1600 Post89 champion Jaap Blijleven has decided against a switch to Post89 for next year, though a partial National schedule remains on the table.
Blijleven dominated his category in the Northern championship this year, winning 12 out of 14 races and regularly mixing with the Post89 midfielders at the wheel of a UCLAN Reynard 89FF.
Craving extra competition, he assessed the possibility of going full-time in a modern car for 2018, but despite winning the Marcel Albers Trophy at Zandvoort in newer equipment, has backed out of the switch.
“I bought a new car especially for the Marcel Albers Trophy in Holland, a 2015 Mygale,” he explained.
“I wasn’t fitting correctly in the car, it’s a little bit too small for me, so I sold it again.”
An airline pilot by trade, Blijleven is a true gentleman racer. Though not doubting his own ability, he was aware there would also be a step-up in the quality of opposition, along with a learning curve with the new equipment.
“If you go up to the modern cars, you’re fighting against 16 and 17-year-olds with a lot of talent,” he added.
“I think I might be able to conduct myself respectably in that series, but on the other hand I already have a car, and it’s a good car.
“The new cars are very fragile, so if you have a small hit or nudge, you have a lot more cost than with the Reynard.
“I spoke to some experienced guys who said that when you drive a new car, it will take you at least a year to adjust and get the maximum out of it.
“I’m not getting any younger, so I thought I’d stick with the Reynard.”
In search of more variety next season, Blijleven is also evaluating the inclusion of British Racing and Sports Car Club Britcover National FF1600 rounds in his schedule.
This presents its own unusual challenges, as his UCLAN team is comprised of students from the University of Central Lancashire – a factor that may limit his ability to stray further from the Northern series’ hub.
“I said to Nick Johnson [UCLAN team manager] that I don’t want to have a year like last year, that I want to have a little bit more competition, and maybe we could do the National,” he said.
“The problem with National is that for the students, it’s sometimes a long way from where they are based. I don’t see them going to Brands Hatch, Scotland, Northern Ireland or places like that.
“I’m probably going to subscribe to the Northern championship again, and it depends what we see at the first race.
“If there’s good competition we’ll continue in Northern. If there’s not enough competition, we might do a couple of races of the National championship, and maybe just do the Champion of Oulton.”