2013 SEASON REVIEW: VORTEX DUNLOP FORD FIESTA CHAMPIONSHIP
Andrew Foley came out on top of what was a very competitive Class C battle. Photo: John Cooper
It has been an another exciting year in the Vortex Dunlop Ford Fiesta Championship where at the start of the season there were many fancied favourites pushing the limits of car and driver to attain the ultimate goal of overall Fiesta champion. Standing out in Class C was a young driver who quietly went about his racing with Daniels Motorsport. Nick Bowers is a very popular and pleasant person and his determination saw him leading the class right up to the final two races at Brands Hatch. Nick was always in the running and proved that a fast consistent finish (not the odd race wins) pays dividends.
The opening rounds at Rockingham in April saw 39 Fiestas (with 30 of these Fiesta STs). Bowers took a second and third behind David Ellesley’s brace of wins. In the other classes, the D class Zetec S of Dave Abbott took two wins as A honours were shared between Ian Scruton and Alan Donnelly. In Class B, Ken Bateman served notice to his peers with a stunning couple of drives to take both class wins and scare the A and D classes with his pace.
At the first 2013 visit to Snetterton, the Norfolk track saw dry racing with a bright sun. The A and D classes again saw Dave Abbott and Ian Scruton dominate the first race, but Andy Mollison saw off Ken Bateman who had a car dilemma. In race 2, both Abbott and Scruton maintained their form, as a re-fettled Zetec Fiesta saw Ken Bateman head the B class. In Class C, David Ellesley dominated qualifying and duly took the first race win, but it was a stealthy Nick Bowers who claimed race 2 with a great win from Lee Napolitano. At this stage, the Foley brothers (Andrew and Matt) were up in the reckoning taking 4thand 5th. So, after four races the class leaders were Ian Scruton (A), Andrew Mollison (B), David Ellesley (C) and Dave Abbott (D).
The next outing, for rounds 5 and 6, saw the Fiesta Championship visiting the home of the British Grand Prix – Silverstone. Love it or hate it, one has to admire the speed of the National track. It was here that the then largest grid put out by the Championship saw a record 42 cars racing. Qualifying in C saw Daniel Holland place his stamp on proceedings. The C class contenders were seen off by Nick Bowers, who produced one of the best performances seen so far in very challenging conditions. The second race for Class C saw a new name take the win as Andrew Taylor headed home Matt and Andrew Foley with Nick Bowers 4th. Race 1 for the A, B & D saw Dave Abbott win from the A class Alan Donnelly with Ken Bateman leading the race home for B. In race 2, although Dave Abbott won the race in D, he was impressively chased by both Ian Scruton and James Appleby. The long-time Zetec B class driver Keith Chapman secured a brilliant class win and took 5thoverall. The championship standings saw Ian Scruton still ahead in A. This was echoed by B with Andy Mollison and then C with Nick Bowers and Dave Abbott leading D class.
A rare visit to Castle Combe for races 7 and 8 produced a combined grid of 35 cars at the mid June meeting. Ian Scruton took both A class wins and in B Keith Chapman won the first race and was second behind Ken Bateman in the second outing. In C, Matt Foley took the win in race 1 as David Ellesley took the win for race 2. Dave Abbott was the lone D class car here so earned maximum points.
Another visit to Snetterton for rounds 9 and 10 over the 21/22 July saw 40 Fiestas out on the track in qualifying. It was to be noted that officials were taking more notice of drivers usurping track limits with penalties imposed. In race 1, James Appleby secured his first D win over Dave Abbott. Alan Donnelly held off Ian Scruton to A victory and Andy Mollison again pipped Ken Bateman for B honours. In C, Andrew Foley placed the marker down with a classy win over Lee Napolitano and David Ellesley. The second race saw Dave Abbott win in D, Ken Bateman impressive in B (and 3rdoverall) and Alan Donnelly securing a two out of two brace of A class wins. Andrew Foley emulated the Donnelly wins, but in Class C with a double set for a good points haul. In A, Ian Scruton led Alan Donnelly by eighteen points. In B Andy Mollison led Ken Bateman by 8 points. In C, Nick Bowers’ 6thand 3rdgave him a one-point lead over Andrew Foley. Closer and closer!
Brands Hatch came next as the Fiestas visited a on a hot weekend at the end of August, for rounds 11 and 12. The C class record was looking strong with 33 entries although eventually only 31 cars made the weekend. E17 star Terry Coldwell popped in to view the cars. Lee Napolitano took pole for race 1 in Class C and backed it up with a race win, and repeated it again in race 2. In A, a first time appearance for Andy Mitchell saw a good class win as Ken Bateman secured B with James Appleby showing improving form to win class D. In race 2, Dave Abbott won in his D class car with Andrew Mitchell claiming A honours. Ken Bateman did the double for B but was hard pressed by a flying Keith Chapman. The class places saw Ian Scruton still at the top in A, but in B, Ken Bateman now held sway on 177 from the 175 points of Andy Mollison. In C, the fascinating battle saw Nick Bowers still holding onto his lead at 150 from Andrew Foley on 149 and David Ellesley on 143 and Matt Foley on 142. Things couldn’t be tighter heading into the final two meetings!
Donington Park was the penultimate venue for rounds 15 and 16. The racing was fast and very furious on this long, high-speed track. The extreme undulating nature of inclines and bends demands the utmost respect and concentration. Ian Scruton took both class wins in A as did Andy Mollison in B. David Grady now out in a fresh ST took the C win in race 1 and Daniel Holland made race 2 his. The class leaders endured mixed fortunes, but the least to suffer was Nick Bowers as his tally of 173 points saw his lead improved by 7 points over Matt Foley and David Ellesley on 160 and Andrew Foley now 158. In A, Ian Scruton led and in B Andy Mollison led Ken Bateman by 6 points. Dave Abbott was clear and away the D leader. Simon Horrobin led the Mintex Masters Awards by just 2 points form Kevin Stirling and then Joanne Eason.
And so to the Formula Ford Festival weekend at Brands Hatch, which is perhaps the highlight of the Ford year as both saloons and single-seaters come together to showcase what is best about Club motorsport.
In changing weather conditions, wet, windy then sunshine, the track played its part in deciding the outcomes. After two gruelling races, Class A honours went to Ian Scruton after a luckless attempt by Alan Donnelly saw him in second place from Peter Dendy-Sadler in third spot. Class B did see changes as Ken Bateman showed superb skills and determination to score wins which safely saw him win the class from Andrew Mollison (2nd) and Keith Chapman (3rd).
Class C, and maybe the main focus of attention, attracted a maximum grid. In the end, the strength and skill of Andrew Foley saw him win the class by 4 points from Lee Napolitano. Nick Bowers did take third place to consolidate a good season. Class D was won by Dave Abbott from James Appleby then Al Daly. The Mintex Masters Awards saw a winner in Simon Horrobin from Kevin Stirling and Joanne Eason.
So 2013 proved to be a fantastic year with record grid entries, which translated into a 38% increase over the previous season. A shining example from all who took part in the Vortex Dunlop Ford Fiesta Championship!