FLORESCU STARS IN MSA FORMULA OPENER


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Florescu claimed his first two Ford MSA Formula wins this past weekend – Photo: Jakob Ebrey

The opening rounds of the 2016 Ford MSA Formula season at Brands Hatch promised to be spectacular and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

Petru Florescu converted pole position into an emphatic victory at Brands Hatch in the opening Ford MSA Formula race of the season for Carlin. He led home a 1-2-3 for the team which included Messrs Max Fewtrell and James Pull.

It was an action-packed start to proceedings with Fewtrell’s electrifying getaway seeing him leap past James Pull and get alongside Florescu as they approached Paddock Hill Bend. However, the kart star found himself pinned on the outside of his team-mate and with tyres not up to optimal temperature thought better of trying to make a move stick.

Ultimately, this proved to be the only real challenge to Florescu’s lead. Having fended off Fewtrell the Romanian proceeded to reel off fastest lap after fastest lap. His quickest, a 46.447s, arrived on lap 11 and was not bettered by anyone in the field.
By lap 17 Petru had built a lead of almost three seconds, but it was wiped out with the emergence of the Saftey Car after Ross Martin ran into the barriers at Druids.

With his lead eroded Florescu once again had to escape team-mates Fewtrell and Pull, but this proved no trouble at all. He expertly judged the restart to complete the final lap of the race unperturbed by his Carlin comrades.

At the start TRS Arden’s Rafael Martins and Caroline flew off of the second row of the grid to find their way past pole sitter Zane Goddard and Alex Quinn, the latter having a difficult opening lap plummeting down to ninth.

From there the on-track action escalated at a frenetic pace, Carlin’s Devlin DeFrancesco pirouetting gracefully down towards Graham Hill Bend, miraculously missing the oncoming stampede of Ford EcoBoost horsepower on lap two.

Caroline was far from happy to sit in Martins’ wheel tracks and engaged maximum attack mode on the outside of Druids to take the lead. However it was short-lived as he ran wide and took a cross country-route, somehow keeping the car pointing in the right direction to rejoin fifth.

The safety car then made its second appearance of the weekend courtesy of Fortec Motorsports’ Frank Bird beaching his car on the kerb at the exit of Clearways.

As the cars circulated the Kent circuit behind the safety car the light drizzle became more persistent and drivers battled to try to keep temperature in their tyres.

With Bird’s stricken car removed, Rafael Martins mastered the re-start; stealing a march on Fielding and team-mate Luis Leeds. However, the resumption of the race was short-lived with a red flag thrown due to the increasingly treacherous conditions.

It was a timely stoppage for Messrs Caroline and Martins, sparing their blushes as both ventured off the track later that lap.
The field returned to the grid shod with wet tyres ready for a thrilling eight minute finale. Fielding struggled with wheel spin off the line from second while Martins sped away in front.

Caroline and Pull had phenomenal starts which saw them climb their way to second and third in hot pursuit of Martins who they soon battled past.

It was then all eyes on Caroline who put on a defending masterclass to keep the faster Pull behind him, but as the two drivers fought amongst themselves Fielding brought himself into play.

With three laps left Fielding saw his opportunity, diving down the inside at turn one as the drivers went three abreast. It was to be the race winning move as Fielding held out for the remaining laps to take the fourth Ford MSA Formula victory of his career and a five point lead in the championship.

It was a case of deja vu for Carlin’s Petru Florescu who bounced back from crashing out of the weekend’s second race to produce a performance that was almost a carbon copy of his race one victory.

Just as was the case in race one, the only threat to Florescu came at the start where he once again struggled off the line in comparison to the man alongside him, TRS Arden’s Luis Leeds.

Leeds found himself on the outside of Petru through the first corner, but the wily Romanian was robust in his defence and not prepared to relinquish the lead.

From there onwards the Ford MSA Formula returnee had sufficient pace in clear air to remain untroubled in his journey to the chequered flag.

Alex Battipaglia