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Velocity Magazine Feature Article – Ben Taylor is a young man in a hurry.
In the rapidly changing world of motorsport, where 21 consigns one to the ranks of the elderly, age and time have become the biggest foe. Next comes money or, to be more accurate, the relative lack thereof.
The simple days where youngsters would spend their pre-teen years dreaming of F1 as they dabbled with karts in their own protective bubbles, like kittens squabbling over a ball of wool, and learning the art of racing along the way, are dim memories of a distant past.
Ben Taylor in action at Sydney Motorsport Park recently – All Photos: Velocity Magazine
These modern-day Cinderellas have no time to dream as they encounter an uphill battle to impress before time and money strike the midnight hour. The gleaming machines and race engineers transformed into pumpkins and rodents in the blink of an eye.
History shows that not all drivers have arrived in the sport with remnants of nappy rash soothed by the fresh smell of baby powder. Nor did they tread the traditional paths of feeder categories such as Formula J, Formula Ford and the like. Towards the end of the 1950s the late Jim Clark had barely begun a circuit racing career when his benefactors bought a D-Type Jaguar and packed him off to Spa. It was a time when the learning process was defined as “Throwing them in at the deep end,” it was quite the accepted norm.
A wander through the paddock during the Magnolia Capital AMRS round at Sydney Motorsport Park in early March was somewhat of a trip down memory lane. It also turned out to be quite an eye opener.
Amongst the array of late model GT machines and TA2 cars sat a small group of Formula 3 machines, a mix of Dallara F307s and the subsequent F308. Though close to 12 years old, they still looked the part, albeit sans the halo that adorns the current international open wheelers. They also sounded every bit as fast. Just three years earlier Harri Jones had set a new lap record for the F3 category at Sydney Motorsport Park, some 8 seconds fasters than a current V8 Supercar.
It was there that I first met Ben Taylor, a young man on a very fast learning curve.
In a whirlwind of events, 17 year old Taylor has been thrust from the Lindstrom Pro Karting team and placed in the driver’s seat of a Tim Macrow prepared Dallara F308 for his first circuit race meeting. The enormity of this young man’s challenge that day cannot be understated. A Formula 3 car is historically a difficult beast to tame with a strong power to weight ratio and high downforce. Brakes are superb and the tyres, thought relatively narrow, work very efficiently when heated correctly. That in itself is an acquired skill, a fact that young Taylor learnt during his first race.
Prior to the race weekend Taylor had undertaken a handful of simulations “To make sure I didn’t blow up the gearbox,” he half chuckled to Velocity Motorsport Magazine. A series of real life assessments followed; a two day Formula 4 test and then a further 3 days in the Tim Macrow Racing Dallara F308. All taken under the watchful eye of Macrow himself. Then came Sydney Motorsport Park for the opening round of the 2021 Australian Formula 3 Championship.
Taylor quickly showed that one lap speed was not going to be a problem and was amongst the fastest in practice. He went one better in qualifying to claim pole position for the opening race. The art of racing against other cars proved to be a more difficult proposition, especially at turns 2 and 15, the two most opportunistic places to pass. After running a strong second for most of the opening race, Taylor was caught out at turn 15 when pushing for the lead and spun. He recovered for 4th at the chequered flag, then finished 5th in the second race of three. By the final Ben was more comfortable in the car and took his first win with a flag to flag victory. Taylor’s victory also took him to the top of the championship leaderboard.
His rapid introduction to the thin edged efficiency of Formula 3 is no coincidence. It has been a pathway constructed by Macrow, Ben and his father Grant, all designed to optimise the funds available to pursue a professional open wheel or Sports Car career in Australasia. They are also hopeful of grabbing the attention of additional supporters before age is against him or the money runs out.
“Ben has only been in Go Karts for 3 years with some success,” his father Grant told Velocity Motorsport Magazine. “The transition to circuit racing was made seamlessly with Tim Macrow and Terry Stott, his engineer. They have taken Ben under their wings and formed a roadmap to this weekend. Tim has been fantastic in providing a plan with great equipment and coaching since our Karting days. We will go one step at a time and Ben has to prove himself. Otherwise it will be back to school and then a normal job.
Our immediate goals are to compete in the TRS (Toyota Racing Series) in NZ and then move to F3 Asia. We also plan to gain some experience in GT and LMP cars along the way. Europe requires more dollars than our current budget. While we can support him with his dream of getting paid to drive race cars in Australasia in TRS and F3 Asia, but not Europe at this stage.
If he was picked up by someone in Europe we would definitely give it our best shot, though he is still in the very early stages of the plan with still a lot to learn. If he can be successful and consistent we believe that this pathway should provide him with a professional racing career.
Round Two of the 2021 Australian Formula 3 Championship head north to Morgan Park from April 16-18. Velocity Motorsport Magazine wishes Ben Taylor and his family all the best for their future race plans.
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