A solid day’s testing at Castle Combe (pronounced “koom”) last week has put Daniel Erickson close to the required pace for the last two rounds of the 2009 British Formula Ford Championship on October 3.

Like all of the venues in the prestigious development series, Castle Combe is new to the CAMS International Rising Star, making every practice lap another step along the learning curve. This test was all the more crucial, because there’ll be little margin for error during the unusual one-day race meeting.

The 3.0km former RAAF airfield circuit, near Bristol in south-west England, is very fast and bumpy, putting extra strain on the transmission and suspension. And there’s precious little space between the bitumen and the fences outside the sweeping corners, making any off-track excursion potentially very costly.

After 80-odd laps during the day in his Australian-built Spectrum 011c racer, Daniel was tired but reasonable satisfied with his day’s results with the Kevin Mills Racing team.

“It was a pretty tough day, physically and mentally,” he said. “Castle Combe is rougher than Silverstone or Oulton Park, more like Knockhill, and there aren’t many slow corners.

As usual we concentrated on finding ways to keep the car’s lap times consistently quick during the races. It’s important to start at the front, but it’s even more important to finish at the front!

“For the first two sessions I drove on the tyres I used at Brands Hatch the previous weekend. They were fairly well worn, so my lap times weren’t anything special. Then I changed to a set of tyres that hadn’t done quite as many laps, and my times improved quite markedly to 67.7-67.8 seconds. That was only a couple of tenths of a second off the circuit’s Formula Ford race lap record.

“In the last session before lunch the gearbox input shaft broke, which meant my mechanic, Greg, had to fix it before he could eat!

After lunch we fitted a set of new tyres, and I did a 67.3s lap. Our team was timing the other quick drivers, and the championship leader James Cole did 66.8s on new tyres, but that might have been with a qualifying set-up.”

Daniel said that he’s confident of being among the frontrunners in the two 18-minute races that will wrap up the 2009 series next month.

“We’re on the pace in qualifying – there are just a few things we need to work on to stay at the front in the races.”