ALL THE FUN OF THE FESTIVAL!
Joey Foster is chasing another Festival title.
The Kent-engined Formula Ford 1600 will once again take centre stage at this weekend’s Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and its promising to be a cracker!
With EcoBoost Formula Ford now part of the British Touring Car Championship package, the category traditionalists are thrilled that the Kent engine has made a storming return and this year, once again, returns to top billing at this BRSCC event. A superb entry of fifty cars will line-up for qualifying tomorrow and it is near impossible to pick a winner. One thing is certain, the racing will be some of the very best Brands Hatch has seen all year!
Ivor McCullough has been the man to beat in the Kent Festival for the last two years, and the Ulsterman arrives this weekend as a potential race winner. Driving a Van Diemen RF00 the man from Ballymena has been in good form all year and is keen to score a unique hat-trick of Festival wins.
The entry list is packed full of former Festival champions, and the race has the largest number of previous winners ever assembled. Joey Foster, who took overall victory in 2003 and returned the following year to win the Kent Festival, makes a very welcome Festival return this year in a Ray for the Don Hardman Automotive team.
Wayne Boyd is also a previous Festival winner and returns to his roots with John Loebell's Medina Motorsport team, while Noel Dunne and Neville Smyth – winners of the Kent Festival in 2006 and 2010 are also on the entry list.
Kevin O'Hara is the 2013 Motorsport Ireland funded driver and he won the Martin Donnelly Trophy in some-style last month. O'Hara will drive a Van Diemen engineered by legendary FF1600 racer Bernard Dolan. Patrick McKenna, runner-up to Josef Newgarden in 2008, is another Festival returnee and the driver who finished third in that race, Graham Carroll, is also back. Jake Byrne is ever improving and should go well in his Van Diemen, while Phil Waldron makes a return after many years.
Luke Cooper has enjoyed another fine season and the Swift Cooper team driver heads to Brands with his Swift SC92F. Cooper finished on the podium here at Brands last year and the youngster should shine again this weekend.
Much interest surrounds the arrival in the UK of the Team USA and Team Canada scholarship teams – again teamed with leading FF1600 entrant, Cliff Dempsey Racing. Team USA have a great history at the Festival and Joey Bickers and Jake Eidson have the responsibility of continuing that tradition. Scott Hargrove and Zacharie Robichon have been handed the keys to the Team Canada cars and will also drive under the Cliff Dempsey Racing banner.
Brands Hatch regulars Oli White and Josh Barnett will both be keen to score Festival success after strong showings at this venue in Champion of Brands races. White scored three victories in the CoB this term and Josh Barnett is a multiple Brands Hatch race winner and is certainly one of the favourites this weekend.
Jonny McMullan heads the Pre 90 entries in his rapid Mondiale M89S, while Dieter Hackel travels from Germany to race his Van Diemen – he is a welcome visitor to Brands, as are all of those travelling from Europe. Look out also for track favourite Shaun Macklin in his Swift SC92F, Conor Murphy in his Van Diemen RF83, Mikey Thompson in a Quest and Laurie Hughes, one of this meeting's most loyal competitors – he again travels from Scotland to compete in his Van Diemen RF78.
The draw for Saturday morning’s two Kent heats can be viewed at Festival heats.
Away from the Kents, the Duratec element of the Festival is comprised of many competitors from the Benelux region, and indeed many have much experience of the Festival. Bart van Os, Max van Splunteren and Thomas Craincourt are all potential race winners. Paul Sieljes, Frederik Schandorff and Abdul Ahmed are also looking to place their names on the winner's list. In the Zetec category Julian Hoskins lines-up as the only previous Festival winner in the pack. The Vector driver took the crown back in 2010. Nigel Wickham, Eric Heudicourt and Patrick Rausch drive Mygale machines, while Jo Zosso and John Salmona will race unusual Tatuus RC99 cars.
Of course the Festival meeting isn’t just about Formula Fords! Both the Sports 2000 championships and Ford Fiesta racing have very much become part of the staple Festival diet over the last few years. Competitors in the Vortex Dunlop Fiesta Championship will contest the final two races of the season and will turn out in force, particularly in the ST class where any one of five drivers could make it happen for them. Nick Bowers currently heads the class on 173 points from Matt Foley (164), David Ellesley (160), Andrew Foley (158) and Lee Napolitano (152).
In Class A (Si), both Ian Scruton and Alan Donnelly have a chance to take the overall Class honours whilst in Class B (Zetec) both Andrew Mollison and Ken Bateman hope to take victory. Class D is already decided in favour of Dave Abbott.
In the Vortex Motorsport News Fiesta Junior Championship, James ‘JJ’ Ross on 201 points heads Robert Cox (182) and Rory Collingbourne (162). Predicting the outcome of this is pure guess-work as any of the three are more than capable of taking the championship title.
The Festival always has a strong Irish representation and this is boosted this year with the Patch Tyre Equipment Fiesta Championship being added to the schedule. Run by Mondello Park as a low cost series, it has been hugely successful, with over 40 drivers registered for the championship. Newly crowned champion John Denning heads the line-up and should be the man to beat, but novices John Boland and Rookie Cup Champion Sean Lillis have both had wins this year and won’t be too far away. Both of the Irish Fiesta races will be streamed live on www.mondello.tv as will Sunday’s Formula Ford Final.
BIGprofile Sports 2000racers will be on-track for three races this weekend. The Historic Trophy of the popular sports racing series kick things off on Saturday afternoon with the Duratec and Pinto classes following during Sunday. In the Duratec category Patrick Sherrington has tasted victory champagne at Silverstone, Donington Park and Zandvoort, while Rob Oldershaw has also been seen in victory lane at Oulton Park and Donington. Craig Mitchell has also been a race winner this season, winning a race in Holland.
In a rain soaked race around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in August, it was the March of Justin Everitt and Matt Manderson that drove to Duratec victory. In the Historic and Pinto classes, the people to watch out for include Chris Snowden and Michael Gibbins although they face stiff opposition in grids that boost quality throughout.
The timetable and entry lists for the Festival can be downloaded at 2013 FORMULA FORD FESTIVAL