David Leslie in the dominant Hope Scott Ralt RT4/80.  Copyright Alan Cox 2010.  Used with permission.

British Formula Atlantic 1980

Despite "one or two problems in 1979", Hitachi continued their sponsorship of the series in 1980, and a 15-round series was announced, to be run by the BRSCC. David Leslie landed the plum drive for 1980, a brand new Ralt RT4/80 immaculately prepared by the Hope Scott Garage team, and duly dominated the season. He won 11 of the 15 races and set fastest lap nine times. Two new March 80As also appeared for the series, prepared by Colin Bennett Racing and driven by Bernard Hunter and Nick Adams but neither driver got any speed from the car and both quit before the end of the season. Alo Lawler also moved to a new car, swapping the reliable, well sorted, and quick Ralt RT1 in which Ray Mallock had won the 1979 series for a new RT4/80, but found the transition difficult and slipped back.

So second in the series was won by Phil Dowsett, taking the same 79B-updated March 782 that he had driven in 1979 to wins at Oulton Park and Silverstone. Ian Flux worked wonders with the Ehrlich RP5 that he had used in the New Zealand series at the start of the year and won the other two races.

The races

05 Apr 1980 > Mallory Park

27 Apr 1980 > Brands Hatch

05 May 1980 > Silverstone

10 May 1980 > Oulton Park

26 May 1980 > Castle Combe

02 Jun 1980 > Mondello Park

15 Jun 1980 > Silverstone

28 Jun 1980 > Oulton Park

27 Jul 1980 > Mallory Park

10 Aug 1980 > Mallory Park

17 Aug 1980 > Ingliston

07 Sep 1980 > Cadwell Park

14 Sep 1980 > Snetterton

28 Sep 1980 > Thruxton

19 Oct 1980 > Brands Hatch

1980 Hitachi British Formula Atlantic Championship table

1David LeslieRalt RT4/80 - Ford BDA Nicholson114 pts11 wins
2Phil DowsettMarch 782/79B - Ford BDA Racing Fabrications67 pts2 wins
3Ian FluxErhlich RP5 - Ford BDA52 pts2 wins
4Alo LawlerRalt RT1/77 - Ford BDA
Ralt RT4/80 - Ford BDA
47 pts 
5David DuffieldRalt RT1 - Ford BDA22 pts 

Points table from Autosport 1 Jan 1981 p10. See also Jeremy Shaw's seasonal survey Autosport 29 Jan 1981 pp22-23. According to The Pace Motor Racing Directory, the points system was 9-6-4-3-2-1 with 1 point for fastest lap.

For 1981, MCD intended to give Atlantic far greater promotion as the Aurora F1 series had been suspended (it would return in 1982). Also it was decided that only the Ford BDA would be allowed; as nobody had used anything else during 1980, this was not a major change. The North American series had adopted the same rule in 1977 but the New Zealand series still allowed different engines, Dave McMillan trying a Datsun/Nissan engine in his Ralt RT4 in January 1981.