Classic Formula Ford 1600 Championship driver Benn Tilley says that his 1971 Merlyn is as fast as the current generation of Renault Clio Cup cars around any circuit.
Tilley, who won on his Luna Logistics BARC Classic Formula Ford – for pre-1982 cars – debut at Silverstone last month, drives a Merlyn Mk20 belonging to Mandie Hadfield.
It is the oldest car on the grid and Tilley, who also races in the Historic Sports Car Club’s Historic FF1600 series for pre-1972 cars, competes in Class B open to models built prior to 1 January 1974.
The 18-year-old, who is only in his third year of racing, told ff1600website that the Merlyn could still challenge the current Clio Cup car for pace: “It’s about on par or quicker than the Clio Cup cars.
“The newest generation [of Clio] are about the same, but the older ones are a second a lap slower.
“I was at Oulton Park a couple of years ago, they had the third generation Clios there, and they were about just under, to a second slower. It’s about that round every track.”
“Putting that in perspective, it’s not bad for a car that’s 46-47-years-old. They are good cars. For what they are, they handle really well.”
Since 2013, the British Touring Car Championship feeder series has run cars with 217bhp, nearly 100bhp more than the 1.6-litre Kent engines used in FF1600.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Ellis Focus Photography