Howe lucky to avoid season-ending ordeal after difficult SMRC opener

Ross Howe will return to Scottish Formula Ford 1600 for its next round in May, after fears a gearbox problem in the Knockhill season-opener would rule him out for the remainder of this season.

Last Sunday’s Jim Clark memorial meeting at Knockhill was a challenging one for Howe. He crashed in Saturday testing after a suspension bolt sheared, followed by a misfire in qualifying the next day due to a distributor fault, which also forced him to miss the opening race. Howe’s second race ended early due to gearbox problems at the halfway mark.

There were fears a costly gearbox replacement would be needed for his Van Diemen, which would likely have forced his Howe Motorsport team to miss the rest of this season due to budget constraints.

“The gearbox is going to the big one, because if the gearbox has failed it could be thousands of pounds for a new one,” he said after race two. “And it’s the lead time on getting the gearbox fixed or getting a replacement gearbox.

“It’s something we have to go back and sit down and think about, [and ask] is it worth it?

“The budget was tight this year anyway,” he continued, “[I] wasn’t as successful with sponsors as we thought we were going to be. And if the gearbox is kaput then the budget’s spent fixing that, another two or three sets of tyres and other consumables and everything throughout the year I don’t think it’d be possible [to continue].

“[I] came into the hairpin and when I went into first gear, there was a bang and just a load of crunching, I had no gears, no drive. I managed to roll it up to the pitlane; that was it, game over.”

However, after investigating the fault Howe is set to return for SMRC’s next round at Knockhill on May 6, their first anti-clockwise running of the season.

Though a failed driveshaft and CV joint – which transfers power from a car’s driveshaft to its wheels – were pinpointed as causes of his race two dramas, new versions of both components will be fitted to his car later this month, along with a new distributor to replace one he had borrowed from fellow competitor Jordan Gronkowski last weekend.

Image courtesy of Howe Motorsport.

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