Stuart Gough will not take any further part in the 2018 Avon Tyres National Formula Ford 1600 Championship, losing his Kevin Mills Racing seat after a major backer pulled out.
An un-named sponsor which was meant to be supporting his whole campaign pulled out after the first National round at Silverstone, leaving him with insufficient budget to continue.
Gough, who won the National Post89 championship and Triple Crown in 2014, did not realise his budget would not appear at all until after the Silverstone meeting, though there had already been delays in securing payments beforehand.
“Late last year we picked up a sponsor to finish off the last round of the Mini JCW Championship,” explained Gough.
“I was given a good opportunity to do Formula Ford. I really enjoy doing it, so it was a no-brainer for me.
“We had [a] full commitment; they assured us the full season would be paid for, so that allowed me to commit to Kevin Mills Racing, that we’d be doing the season.”
“And then there was an episode of reassurances (of money) that kept coming. In the end I had to fund Silverstone myself, but still on the basis that they were going to pay, and it was just a case of financial year end and various other reasons.
“Ultimately, after Silverstone I pushed and pushed for an answer, but they said they couldn’t support us for the rest of the year.”
With no back-up plan in place, Gough’s loss of a key sponsor has compromised his plans for the rest of 2018, and he remains unsure of his next steps.
“It happens so unexpectedly that you haven’t even got an option B, C or D lined up,” he continued.
“In previous years I’ve been able to fund a bit of it myself”.
“It was hanging over my head, the sponsor not paying before Silverstone and not paying their first invoice. I hadn’t made a conscious decision whether or not to commit to Silverstone.”
He believes that uncertainty over budgets affected his performance in the first National meeting two weeks ago.
“It did affect me a little bit at Silverstone, not knowing where we were with money.”
“If I crashed my car what was I going to do from a budget point of view? Where’s that money going to come from?”
“My brother was racing Formula Ford in Australia, because he lived over there. He had a crash, and it cost him $35,000. People don’t just have that kind of money lying around.”
Since announcing his withdrawal from FF1600, Gough has received offers of race drives in other championships, but without a new budget in place, has no means of capitalising on new opportunities which arise.
“There’s an awesome opportunity someone’s offered me in British GTs but, if you haven’t got one pound to spend on racing, you haven’t got £5000-£7000 to spend!”