ERIC ON THE DOUBLE AT BRANDS HATCH
Eric Lichtenstein gets a champagne soaking on the Brands Hatch podium. Photo: www.jakobebrey.com
A drama-filled sixth round of the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain brought the curtain down on a great weekend of racing at Brands Hatch for the new-generation EcoBoost-powered Formula Fords. Jamun Racing’s Argentinian driver Eric Lichtenstein took the overall win yesterday to make it two from three races at Brands, with Mexico’s Fabian Welter claiming another Duratec class win to increase his points lead.
Lichtenstein assumed command of the race at the Druids hairpin on the opening lap after a clash of wheels with his team-mate and pole-position man Luke Williams as they disputed the lead. Eric had the inside line for the corner and held on to take the lead while Luke skittered off and through the gravel trap, rejoining well down the order.
Jake Cook held second on the opening lap, just ahead of championship leader Antti Buri. Next time around, it was their turn to make contact, this time through Graham Hill Bend as they hit what appeared to be a patch of oil. “It was covered in oil,” said JTR man Antti. “At first I thought Jake had a puncture – he went sideways – and the next thing I’m on the oil and I went in to him.” Buri’s car mounted the back of Cook’s and both were delayed, Jake falling to third behind Melroy Heemskerk’s GEVA Racing car and Buri slipping back to seventh, with slightly deranged steering.
This kerfuffle gave Lichtenstein a useful breathing space and he was quick to make the most of it, pulling a lead of three seconds over Heemskerk within half a dozen laps.
Cook was in the wars again before long, slowing dramatically with mechanical problems which eventually forced him to the pits for investigation. Buri meanwhile steadily climbed his way back through the EcoBoost pack, displacing both Cavan Corcoran and Heemskerk on lap nine, taking advantage of both of them around the outside of Druids, to move back into second spot. Antti then tried his best to narrow the gap to Lichtenstein but had to settle for second.
Eric was delighted with his second win of the weekend: “The car was superb, really very good. We had a problem yesterday but we fixed that, and I am really pleased for my sponsor, Velocidad, who have given me this opportunity.”
Heemskerk and Corcoran staged a mighty duel for third place for much of the race, with Cavan nabbing the final podium slot for JTR two laps from home; it was his first top-three finish of the season. “I hit the oil as well,” said Corcoran, “and hit the back of someone, which bent the steering arm a bit and the handling was off, so I’m really happy to have got a podium.”
Williams staged a dogged comeback from his lap-one dramas to come home fifth for Jamun racing, ahead of Enigma man Fred Martin-Dye and JTR’s Julio Moreno. Cook finished eighth in class, albeit several laps in arrears after his pit stop. Ryan Cullen was the only EcoBoost non-finisher, the Somerset man spinning out after 15 laps.
Welter’s win in the Duratec class was a lucky one, even though he led from start to finish. “In the middle of the race the exhaust broke,” said Fabian. “I don’t know what happened, but we lost a bit of power and that meant I had to be on the limit at every turn, and that hurt the tyres. It feels very good to be on top of the podium again.”
Abdul Ahmed, who commutes from his job as an aerospace engineer in the USA to go racing in England, saw his commitment pay off at Brands today, the Don Hardman Automotive Ray driver getting the better of a long battle with Fluid Van Diemen man Matt Rao to claim class second. “It’s been a rough start to the season for me,” said Abdul. “I didn’t finish the first four races, so to finally get on the podium. it helps.”
George Blundell brought his Enigma Mygale home fourth in class behind Rao, with Alex Drabble fifth for Fluid ahead of Saturday class victor Olly Rae, who was delayed by a first-lap collision with Jason Down, possibly also as a result of the dropped oil, and Charles Anti.
With a win and two seconds from the three Brands Hatch rounds, Antti Buri enjoyed a good weekend in terms of his championship hopes and carries a 36-point lead to Rockingham in three weeks time.
For a full round up of all the Formula Ford action at Brands Hatch over the weekend visit www.britishformulaford.co.uk