Norfolk’s Ralph Firman Racing ready to return to roots after US campaign
After several highly successful seasons in America, winning numerous titles in the process, Snetterton-based Ralph Firman Racing aim to dip their toes into water closer to home.
Firman started building Van Diemen racing cars out of a lock-up on industrial premises opposite Snetterton Circuit in 1973, before selling the highly successful operation to the American based Elan Technologies concern in 1999.
Some 10 years later he reformed the nucleus of Van Diemen, which had since been relocated to America, under the RFR banner on the same Snetterton site to build a bike-engined single-seater racing car.
The RFR 1000 has proved highly successful in the America Formula B series, which has prompted a move closer to home.
'We have been so focused in getting the RFR started in America that we haven't had time to think about the home market place,' said Firman recently.
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'Britain is the home of motorsport and we don't want to forget about it because I would love to see one of my cars race and win over here again.'
Firman is currently exploring options, with the Monoposto Championship high on his list as the series caters for bike engine single seaters as well as the more traditional car-engined derived categories, which was contested and won by Mulbarton's Tristan Cliffe for the second year in a row in 2011.
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Last year also saw RFR build a Formula 2000/Formula Continental car based around a two-litre car derived engine to take on his former company Van Diemen in the highly competitive championships, based in North America.
RFRs swept to victory in the end of season American Road Race of Champions, held at Road Atlanta in Georgia, in both Formula B and Formula Continental.
Glenn Cooper raced his Firman RFR-F1000 to claim victory in Formula B after qualifying the Norfolk-built car in second place.
Cooper managed to scramble past pole sitter, and reigning SCCA national champion, Brandon Dixon in his Citation, at the start of the Formula B race.
From there he never relinquished the lead and went on take a commanding victory, while also setting the fastest race lap, more than a second quicker than his nearest competitor.
Robert La Rocca dominated Formula Continental during the entire weekend, completing a hat-trick of pole position, race victory, and fastest lap in the race.
Setting a pole time more than a second quicker than his nearest competitor allowed him to easily outpace the field for a fabulous victory.
Cooper's and LaRocca's double wins duplicated RFR's twin victories at the SCCA June Sprints at Road America where Niki Coello and Bill McLaughlin Jnr took wins in Formula Continental and FB respectively in their Snetterton built cars.
Meanwhile, in his first race for 11 years, Alex Pate demonstrated the pace of his RFR FB car at the Mission Raceway Park, Canada by nearly lapping the whole field, after being spun to the back of the pack at the first corner.
Sadly for the returnee the fuel pump packed up on the final lap and robbed him of a well-deserved victory.
• The Unlimited Banger Icebreaker meeting, which had to be postponed following the heavy snowfall on Saturday night, will be restaged at King's Lynn's Norfolk Arena this Saturday at the unusual start time of 1pm in order to not disrupt other fixtures on the national racing calendar.