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Champion Interview by email: 1800 - Paul Britten

Our thanks to Paul for answering the questions with candour:

When did you start racing?

I started racing in 2000 in the BRDC Formula Ford Championship but half a season was all myself and my mum could afford so that was pretty much it for that year.

What previous success have you had?

For financial reasons I never did a full season or a championship, only individual races. During 2000 and 2001 I managed to do 9 races, 5 in the 2000 BRDC Formula Ford championship and 4 in the 2001 BARC Formula Renault Championship. Of those races the ones that stood out were:

· 3rd in my first race in the BRDC Formula Ford Championship at Silverstone
· 3rd in a non-championship race for those competing in the BRDC Formula Ford Championship at Croft
· 4th place in the 2001 BARC Renault round at Croft
· 4th place in the 2001 BARC Renault round at Silverstone

That was it. Between 2001 and 2010 I didn’t do any racing at all and had to amuse myself in other ways. Then in 2010 I started to think that maybe I had enough money to buy myself an old Formula Ford and that’s when I bought my current car. I did two races in 2010 including the Formula Ford Festival. We came 3rd in the Zetec Final which was a pleasant experience.

Sat out 2011 and saved up some money to see if I could do a full season of Monoposto 1800 in 2012. We got close but I doubt whether we would have beaten Ewen, he was faster at most circuits so 2nd in the Championship was the probably as good as it could have been.

Why did you decide to do Monoposto?

Simple reason really, 750MC F4 was dying and Monoposto became the only option for single-seater club racing on a low budget. Looking at the costs it became apparent that the entry fees for Monoposto were lower than F4 and the calendar was far more impressive. Then I found out that I didn’t need to modify my car much to be competitive so I was sold.

What mods did you make to the car?

I’d watched a few races and the only thing I noticed was that a few people had wings, other than that everyone’s car looked fairly standard (how naïve!). So with that in mind I decided to buy some front and rear wings off the same person I bought the car from. They were relatively cheap as they weren’t carbon fibre so it didn’t make much of a dent in my budget. And that’s it! Two things stopped me doing anything else to the car, the first was the cost and the second was that I wanted to keep the car standard in case I wanted to do the Formula Ford Festival again. With that in mind the engine, the gearbox, the suspension and the wheels / tyres are standard Zetec specification. Even the exhaust manifold and the dash unit are standard.

Are there any others you would have liked to make?

Not really! If I started throwing money at the car by fitting things like a limited-slip diff or a bespoke manifold it would take some of the enjoyment out of it. The only thing I would consider is fitting wider wheels so that I could run old F3 rubber, which would save a fair bit of money as well as giving a bit more grip. But that might require changing my hubs which I’m not keen on.

Which was your most enjoyable race?

Race 1 at the Silverstone GP this season. It’s the first time I’ve raced on that circuit and I loved it. Would have been even better if I’d had a clutch but we muddled through……

Is there anybody you especially enjoy racing / beating?

I enjoy racing with Ewen but that’s more to do with him making me laugh in the paddock. I terms of who I enjoy beating, anybody who’s thrown money at their car and thinks they deserve to win.

Would you have done anything different?

Part of me wishes I’d read the rules properly in my first season but I’m not sure what difference it would have made. I’ve been a bit naïve but that’s part of life.

Which is you favourite circuit and why?

Silverstone GP. It’s fast, it’s smooth and it demands commitment to get a good lap time. I went to Oulton Park for the first time this year and I really liked that too, much better than Brands Hatch.

How big is your team on the day?

Just me and my wife who helps push the car around. When I look back over the past two seasons it makes me laugh as neither of us have any experience of running a race car so we always look a bit lost. To be fair though people have been very generous with their help and advice, I think they take pity on us!

Do you work on the car yourself or get somebody else to do it?

I work on and prepare the car myself, which is difficult when you’re often doing things for the first time. Luckily I have a good friend called Barry who talks me through most things over the phone. Without his knowledge and advice I would have probably missed a few races or spent far more money getting things fixed!

Are you glad you did Mono?

Yes, definitely.

Would you like to race anything else? (Within Mono, or any other series whatsoever, budget no limits.)

I’d love to race GTs/Sportscars, that would be the dream. I’m too old to go any further in modern single-seaters but historic Grand Prix cars are very appealing. I was hoping someone might be kind enough to trust me with one of their historic cars but the phone hasn’t rung…..

What do you do as a day job?

I work for the Volkswagen Group auditing warranty repairs. Not quite as boring as it sounds……

Paul Britten

Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsover. Subheadlines and captions are not originated from the named author. We are unable to reproduce results due to copyright reasons. If any pictures are copyright and the owner wishes them removed please email us.




Paul with the car

Oulton Park

And again

Castle Combe before..... tipped down with rain

Silverstone GP

The asst ed has no idea whether a Jordan 191 would fit the bill for historic GP racing, but will take any excuse to show a picture of Gary Anderson's masterpiece. Seen here at Spa 2011 (pic: Sports Car Digest)