2018 SEASON REVIEW: BRSCC FIESTA JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP RACING WITH MRF TYRES
The BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship headed into a new era in the 2018 season as it was the first that would feature the cars racing with a new tyre supplier, with Indian outfit MRF Tyres replacing Dunlop. Once again an influx of new drivers aged 14-17 joined the grid to tackle the existing drivers that elected to stay for a second season. With a great mix in the offing, the championship was set to be exciting once more.
Jam-Sport Racing’s James Waite fired the first warning shot by taking both race victories at the season opener at Brands Hatch in March in dominant fashion, followed home both times by impressive rookie Isaac Smith who claimed two 2nd places on his debut. A 3rd place finish each was shared by Josh Steed and Olly Turner respectively, showcasing already that this season was going to be competitive. One driver had an up and down weekend was young Danish driver Magnus Kriklywi, who ended the opening race at Brands Hatch in the Paddock Hill Bend gravel trap, before a 4th place got him off the mark.
Kriklywi was able to bounce back at Cadwell Park in early June, where he was the main benefactor of an error by Waite while leading the first race that left him in the tyre wall and gently rolling onto his roof. The resulting race stoppage left Kriklywi picking up his first win ahead of Smith and Steed, before doubling up in the second race from pole followed by Steed and Turner, while Waite could only manage a lowly 9th with a wounded car after his incident. The visit to Rockingham, which would turn out to be the last, saw both race winners on the front row together for Race 1 with Kriklywi on pole, but it would be Waite that would gain victory after a 2 second penalty for Magnus for driving standards pushed him down to 2nd place. Kriklywi was able to right that wrong later that afternoon with the positions swapped in Race 2, while Smith and Turner each earned another 3rd place respectively.
Snetterton in Norfolk in July would see Waite back to his dominant best as he was uncatchable and undefeatable all weekend, starting both races from pole and winning each of them at a canter. In contrast, Kriklywi’s car faltered on the opening lap just corners from the start in Race 1, while Isaac Smith didn’t even make it off the grid with his own technical issues moments before. Both would take a podium in the second race, while Turner and first time rostrum finisher Nathanael Hodgkiss took home silverware before that in Race 1.
Severely wet conditions greeted the Juniors at their August visit to Castle Combe, but while Waite once again picked up the win in the opening race, the second encounter would see a new winner emerge as Mutation Motorsport’s Josh Steed reeled in and passed Waite to claim his maiden FJC victory, despite battling the elements and taking P2 in the previous race. Kriklywi and Smith once again banked valuable points as they claimed more podium places. Thankfully conditions were significantly brighter for the championships’ first ever visit to Thruxton at the beginning of September, where Waite and Kriklywi spent both races glued to each other in a fierce battle for victory. The young Dane claimed Race 1, but again lost out on winning the second race due to a time penalty which gave Waite the honours instead. Smith yet again took another 3rd place finish over the weekend, while Hodgkiss bounced back from a first lap retirement in Race 1 to also take his second podium placing. Another notable effort came from rookie Abby Lock, who was on course for a personal best finish at one point, before a big sideways moment at the back of the circuit put paid to that chance.
More wet conditions presented themselves at the penultimate weekend at Silverstone later that month, where from start to finish it was advantage Kriklywi. A pair of dominant wins saw him almost draw level with Waite in the points, who in turn was less than satisfied with being off the pace and had to cope with only 5th and 6th (the latter as a result of a penalty for driving standards); Steed, Smith and Hodgkiss once again claimed podium places as the former two were also locked in a duel for 3rd in points. Come the final rounds at a sunny, autumnal Brands Hatch for the Formula Ford Festival, Kriklywi’s form was now evident and, by virtue of a win and a 3rd place, scored the points he needed to become the 2018 Fiesta Junior champion and made history as the first to hail from outside of the UK. Waite’s 9th and 4th places respectively meant he had to surrender the title, but his herculean effort and raw pace throughout the year cannot be ignored and he too will be a future champion, while Josh Steed’s victory in the final race of the year secured 3rd place after snatching both respectively from Isaac Smith’s grasp. All three are sure to go on and achieve great things in their careers.
2019 is all set to be bigger and better once, so bring on the new class of Fiesta Juniors!