In one week, Flynn Mullany managed to overcome the disappointment of ruling himself out of round two of the New Zealand Formula Ford championship to scoring his best-ever Formula Ford result.
A mistake in pre-race testing at Pukekohe Park led to Mullany being forced to sit out the latest combined round of the ITM NZ Formula Ford series and the Giltrap Group North Island Formula Ford championship.
What was shaping up to be a competitive round resulted in a Did Not Start (DNS) for the 18-year-old.
It was a massive disappointment for a driver who every race weekend seeks out new sponsorship and funds to see him able to turn up on the grid.
“On Saturday, Eddie, the team engineer, said we would try out two new set ups,” Mullany told Velocity News.
“I would push the car to its max on both set-ups, and we posted a front-running time with the first set-up.
“I was feeling confident with the car. But then I had a high-speed spin at turn one. I returned to the pits to re-evaluate everything, learnt there was no real damage and then continued with the run.
“Then, shortly after, I locked the fronts on the entry to turn two, smacked the kerb at the chicane, and that threw the car onto the ripple strip that leads onto the back straight.
“There was this terrible bang coming from the car’s floor as it ran over each bump and I knew I had broken or damaged something.”
Mullany retired from the rest of the session, and the car was taken back to Eddie’s place for a final assessment.
“Eddie then rang me at 10.30 that night and said that after checking over the car, he realised that the chassis had been damaged. He would have to do repairs and said I would not be racing that weekend.
“I was gutted. Learning that I would miss a round of nationals was a massive shame because I knew I would be missing out on seat time.
“Unlike a lot of others in Formula Ford, I don’t own a car. Instead, I lease it from a team. Funds are tight and that means we can’t do a lot of testing or anything. So, missing a whole round was a big disappointment.”
Sat at home doing normal teenage activities when he should have been at the race track, Mullany planned out what the next five days would look like.
Round five of the North Island series was scheduled to be held at Hampton Downs the following weekend, and Mullany was determined to atone for his mistake at Pukekohe.
“It was on Sunday when I was at home doing homework, and everyone else was at the track racing, where I decided to plan out what I would do to get back up-and-running.
“Every morning and every night that week, I was training for Hampton Downs, whether that was doing exercise or going over data set-up with my coach Jono Lester and the boys at Corliss Race Engineering.
“Jono is such an awesome guy, and he is the ideal coach for me. His career has seen him race GTs in Asia, which I want to follow in the future. We work so well together.
“But the incident served as motivation for me. I knew I had so much more to give, and I didn’t want what happened at Pukekohe to get in the way of that.”
By the time qualifying at Hampton Downs rolled around, Mullany said he was the most confident he had ever been in a Formula Ford.
What ensued was a career-best qualifying result and subsequent podium.
“Saturday qualifying at Hamptons, I felt super comfortable with the car. I was in the sort of zone where I was doing lap after lap, not focusing on each lap’s time.
“When I returned to the pits, I saw Eddie jumping around. I had no idea what I had done and whether it was a good result or not.
“But when he said I had put it on the front row, four-tenths clear of the field and only behind [Matthew] McCutcheon. I was overjoyed. It was the highest I had ever qualified in Formula Ford. I then managed to hold on to the podium in the race.
“It was such a happy, sensational moment for me after what had been a truly up-and-down week. It goes to show that you with hard work and not letting bad luck get in your way, you can achieve something out of nothing.”