Formula Ford 1600’s fusion of old and new relates to all forms of the category, where the work of the past is literally up against that of the present.
Medina Sport is essentially the answer to a ‘what if?’ question in motorsport history. Had Van Diemen remained in FF1600, what would it have done?
Ollie White thinks he knows the answer, and it handily includes a driver’s-eye explanation of the characteristics of a Medina chassis. White drove a Medina for Souley Motorsport so is perfectly placed to understand.
“It’s easier to go from dry to wet quickly, that’s one of the advantages. It’s just a really tidy car. It’s like a better version of a Van Diemen,” White says of his current car.
“It’s where Van Diemen would be if they’d carried on making cars.”
Despite nearly a decade since Van Diemen’s FF1600 departure, the majority of the car is still built from Van Diemen parts.
“Medina Spares – because we can’t use the name Van Diemen unfortunately – has the right to manufacturer Van Diemen parts, made by genuine people who used to make the original parts. So we offer support to all the Van Diemen drivers,” explains Andy Brickles, boss of Medina Spares and ‘factory’ team B-M Racing, who believes that Medina has followed the development path Van Diemen would have taken.
“Van Diemen ‘stopped’ in 2010. The last chassis was a LA10. And from there they’ve been consistent frontrunners, [despite] no developments. Van Diemen liked to develop and experiment.
“What John [Lobell, Medina Sport founder] did was he looked at the chassis, and then wondered what it lacked in comparison to others.
“The fundamental difference of a Medina chassis is towards the rear end. Due to the geometry and the layout of the internals, there’s so much more traction, and that’s what Ollie was saying.
That’s why it’s so good in the wet, and in the dry. You can just put your foot down, and keep your foot down.”
In addition to weather changes, this also assists when visiting drastically different circuits.
“Because it’s got a shorter wheelbase, it’s much more nimble. The car is just as good at Silverstone as it is at Oulton Park.”
Brickles has led B-M Racing for four years, setting it up in 2015 with BRSCC Avon Tyres Northern Championship race-winner David McArthur. This coincided with Lobell wanting to scale back his day-to-day running of the Medina Sport operation, a commitment he dropped entirely ahead of 2018.
B-M Racing had a stellar first season: winning the Northern title in style with brothers Tom and David McArthur, and then triumphing in the Walter Hayes Trophy with Graham Carroll. Since that point it’s “snowballed” according to Brickles, with Medina and B-M Racing supplying cars and much more to customers of all kinds in the FF1600 paddock.
Medina Sport became a fully fledged car manufacturer in 2016, and the all-new prototype chassis won its first race: a WHT heat with British FFord champion Wayne Boyd.
Although B-M Racing won the Champ of Oulton and Star of Anglesey titles last year with Rory Smith and Tom McArthur, it is 2017 Anglesey champion Matt Round-Garrido who has proven to be the most potent Modena customer.
The teenager was run by Team Dolan in the BRSCC National and the Northern Irish championships last year, winning races in the first and the title in the latter. This year he’s racing for Jay Howard Driver Development in USF2000 in the IndyCar support paddock. He has repeatedly credited the merits of the Medina JL17 he ran for two years, which was an undeveloped piece of kit when he first got his hands on it.
“Overall the chassis has proven itself,” summarises Brickles. “It’s so good to see that a new car, in its second year, is doing as well as it is.
“The good thing about many teams running a chassis, is they’re all going their own way with it. And I know Bernard’s very different to how we set it up, and he’s winning races and we’re winning races, so everyone is developing it.
“They’re all giving us feedback on the reliability of components, which is what we want. We’ve already developed various upgrades for the chassis. And the reliability’s been really good.
“We don’t get data back from other teams, that’s their intellectual property. Regarding set-up and data, everyone’s very closed fist. But regarding chassis development, their feedback is taken into account.”
On-track success has led to more orders for Medina chassis, with #4 and #5 being built this winter.
“The originals were built by John Lobell, so they’re Medina Sport JL. So far we’re undecided [on the new chassis moniker], because obviously John was a fantastic engineer and he originally developed the chassis.
“So with respect to John, either we keep the JL and have his legacy live on, or – undecided. But it would be nice to remember John in some way or another, because he’s given a lot to the industry.”