45TH FORMULA FORD FESTIVAL SEES STELLAR ENTRY


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Who will be the successor to Wayne Boyd's 2015 victory this year? – Photo: Gary Hawkins

For those who love their club motorsport, there’s events which always hold a special place in any racing fan’s heart. This weekend, we return once again to one of the longest running in the UK. It’s a place where memories have been made, stars have been born and careers have been sent into overdrive with success in the event. For the 45th time, we descend on Brands Hatch in Kent for the legendary spectacle that is the Formula Ford Festival.

Look back at the list of names that have graced the top step of the Final and it makes for fascinating reading. Names such as Jenson Button, Mark Webber, Anthony Davidson, Eddie Irvine, Johnny Herbert and more can all attribute winning the Festival as a key stepping stone in their racing history. Indeed, more recent winners that have made great progression include Nick Tandy clinching the overall win at Le Mans for Porsche in 2015 and last year’s winner Wayne Boyd, who now plies his craft with United Autosports in the European Le Mans Series aboard an LMP3 Ligier prototype. It just goes to prove that the Festival is still as relevant as it was when future grand prix stars graced the tarmac all those years ago!

We head into the 2016 edition off the back of a sensationally strong season in the Avon Tyres Formula Ford 1600 National Championship. The resurgence in popularity for Formula Ford 1600 was only boosted by the prize of a place in the Mazda Road To Indy USF2000 Scholarship Shootout for the champion. The man that took that honour was Ireland’s Niall Murray with a dominant display of driving all season. Being a past winner in 2013, he’ll be keen to emulate Boyd and do the double at Brands Hatch to round off an incredible year.

There is, however, one man that’ll give him quite possibly his biggest challenge all season. Having progressed through Formula Renault, Radicals and a British GT debut this year, 2011 Festival winner Scott Malvern returns to try and spoil the party. Some say that what Scott doesn’t know about Formula Ford isn’t worth knowing, so getting to grips with the Mygale GV15-K should (in theory) be a piece of cake!

Along with this, 2003 winner Joey Foster can’t resist the urge to go for a brace of Festival wins either as he joins the grid, while more key entries come from the mass of top drivers that contested the National series this year. These include Chase Owen (newly crowned Northern Post ’89 champion), Chris Middlehurst, Stephen Daly, Jake Byrne, Matthew Cowley, the McArthur trio (Tom, David & Neil) and the new Firman chassis piloted by Luke Williams, Graham Carroll and James Roe Jnr. In addition, there’s further names to consider such as twice podium finisher Stuart Gough, Motorsport Ireland’s Jordan Dempsey, Andy Charsley, newly crowned Scottish FF1600 champion Neil MacLennan and the 3 drivers that appear from across the pond as Team USA and Team Canada once again field their scholarship winners. Parker Thompson represents Canada while the American duo will be Oliver Askew and Kyle Kirkwood.

How do you pick an absolute favourite from that little lot? We have been spoilt with the amount of quality drivers entered this year and who knows – perhaps there’s a chance that 2016 will trump last year’s phenomenal spectacle. Nothing’s impossible, however with the amount of high drama Sunday provided in 2015 it’ll be some task. Sit back and enjoy two days of incredible Formula Ford action through the traditional heats, semi-finals and the frantic Last Chance Race before the weekend closes with the all-important Final. Game on!

Alongside the Festival, there's a packed support programme which features the final rounds for both the Quaife Fiesta Championship and the Fiesta Junior Championship. Titles are still to be decided in both with Alastair Kellett set to take both Class D and overall honours, while there's a frantic scramble for the coveted Class C title between as many as at least 5 drivers! Also ending their season in style is the Luna Logistics Classic Formula Ford Championship, who pick a fitting setting to close our their 2016 campaign, alongside the ever present Sports 2000 races for both Pinto and Duratec classes individually. As ever, our friends from Ireland usually bring a championship to join the fun and on this occasion, they've plumped for the excellent ASK Supercars and Irish Strykers to take the trip across the Irish Sea.

It's looking as though the weather for Festival weekend is looking as good as can be expected. Conditions appear to be forecast as dry and bright with no sign of any rain making an appearance. This should set things up nicely for a traditional Autunmal sunset to provide the backdrop for what's shaping up to be a scintillating Festival Final. A full breakdown of the forecast courtesy of the Met Office can be found here – BRANDS HATCH WEATHER.

Also, all the key spectator and competitor information can be found via the following post on our Facebook page – FORMULA FORD FESTIVAL KEY INFO.

Scott Woodwiss