Ed Thurston is set to have his first HSCC Historic Formula Ford race as a Classic Team Merlyn driver at this weekend’s Silverstone International Trophy.
Thurston, 19, has been campaigning his own Elden Mk8 for the last few seasons, but a catastrophic engine blowup at Oulton Park last year forced a change of plans.
He had a successful debut in a Classic Team Merlyn car at the Walter Hayes Trophy, winning the Carl Hamer Trophy for Formula Ford cars made between 1967 and ’81, and has high hopes for his part-season with the team in 2019.
“I’ve given myself the best chance to win, by selecting the rounds that I want to do, and doing them properly, ” Thurston told FF1600website, as he was packing his bags ready for the first Friday test session of his FF1600 career.
“So I’m going to do less, better. That’s what I’ve been told to do by fellow competitors.”
Classic Team Merlyn is run by Mike O’Brien and came close to winning the HSCC FF1600 title in 2017, with current British GT racer Michael O’Brien at the wheel.
Thurston is part of a three-car entry for Silverstone, alongside regular driver Ben Tusting and relative newcomer Pierre Livingston.
“I’ve got team-mates for the first time ever,” says Thurston, who is more used to a single-car family set-up.
“Obviously, the dream result for the team is a 1-2-3.
“I’d like to win, I’ve given myself the best opportunity to win, but it’s motorsport, isn’t it? Who knows what’s going to happen?”
Classic Team Merlyn’s most obvious rival is 2018 champion Cameron Jackson, who will be out in the Winkelmann that proved such a potent weapon at Donington in March.
“No. Not scared of him. I know he’s quick, but we’re very quick so it’s okay,” said Thurston.
“He’s very fast. And Callum (Grant) is out as well. Ben Tusting’s quick. Ben and Pierre (Livingston) are both quick.
“So I reckon there’s five people who can win. Which we like. I think it’s going to be [a case of] who’s where on the last lap.
“I think there’s going to be a Winkelmann, three blue Merlyns and an orange Merlyn – in very close proximity to each other. For quite a long time.
“It’s just going to be about really brilliant timing to make the move. Into Luffield I assume, on the last lap? I think that’s how you’ve got to play it.
“From what I’ve seen, breaking the tow is going to be the key. It’s going to be difficult.
“[My] dream plan would be to make a break, break the tow early and crack on.”
Thurston sounds supremely confident. But this weekend he has the added pressure of not having raced a single-seater since the Walter Hayes Trophy last November, though will have a test day before immediately before the upcoming Silverstone meeting.
He admits that he does get nervous before a race.
“I have to drink something with a consistency thicker than water in the morning otherwise it’ll come back up, put it that way.
“I’m fine on the grid but if I keep the clutch down, my leg will shake uncontrollably, which isn’t good if you want a good start. But it’s rolling starts at Silverstone this weekend.”
It seems that he is a fan of the rolling start. “There’s less stress on the components of the car, which is good. I’m not nervous about breaking anything.
“And the racing starts then, from the start-finish line, instead of a corner in or two corners in.”
Thurston’s Classic Team Merlyn drive in the Silverstone International Trophy will be the first of four in 2019.