IT’S FESTIVAL TIME!
Typical grey, wet and dank conditions greeted the Formula Fordsters this morning as they began testing in earnest ahead of this weekend’s Formula Ford Festival, the 41stin the events history. Fortunately, the forecast for the rest of the day and the weekend is much more positive so let's hope the sun is shining come Sunday.
Due to various factors, the entry for the ‘blue-riband’ Duratecs is disappointing, but there is no doubting the quality of the field. Dunlop MSA Formula Ford champion Antti Buri will line up in a Mygale SJ11 and will be out to win the double, as Scott Malvern did last year. One of the main obstacles in the way of the Finn will be Eric Lichtenstein. The Argentinian had a fantastic second half to the regular season winning eleven races in total, to take third place overall behind Jake Cook.
As ever with the Festival, there is a strong representation from the Netherlands, with regular Festival campaigner Michel Florie back for another crack at the title. The Geva Racing pairing of compatriots Max Van Splunteren and Bart Van Os joins him. Another driver with a few Festivals under his belt is Getem’s Jason Down who will put his Mygale SJ07 through its paces.
American interest in the Duratecs this year comes from Abdul Ahmed, who has made a late switch from the Kent category, and 23 Racing’s Mark Draghicescu, who hails from Portland, Oregon. 23 Racing are also fielding London based Ross Dunstan.
George Blundell and Olly Rae, who tied on points in the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford championship, will renew their close rivalry at Brands. Gavin Halls has made the long trip over from Bahrain to contest the Festival in a Provily Racing prepared Mygale SJ08.
Forty-five Kent powered Formula Fords will contest the Kent category of the Festival, with reigning champion Ivor McCullough heading an impressive international field. As is the long-standing tradition, the Kent section is well stocked with Irishman from both sides of the border including regulars James Hagan, Stephen Mawhinney, Henry Campbell, Noel Dunne and & Jonny McMullan, amongst others. England and Scotland are also both well represented. Luke Cooper looks the pick of the bunch having had a particularly promising season winning the BRSCC Triple Crown.
Again, the Festival has attracted a European following and Klaus-Dieter Häckel travels from Germany to compete. Sylvain Haverland is another welcome entry from Belgium, while Manuel Beguinot and Xavier Michel (who will also race in the Zetecs) represent France.
From further afield, and looking to maintain the impressive record of the Team USA Scholarship drivers, will be Tristan Nunez and Jack Mitchell Jr. As with Team USA, Cliff Dempsey Racing will prepare Team Canada’s Garrett Grist. Meanwhile, UK based Californian, Austin Kimberly, will hope to put the experience he has gained racing in the BRSCC Formula Ford championships to good use.
Mark Edwards has assembled another good grid of cars for the Zetec element of the Festival. Edwards has been the prime mover in the category for several years, and has kept the interest going during these difficult economic times.
Edwards will drive a Mygale previously raced by Danica Patrick, while other Mygales will be raced by Paul Sieljes from Holland and Nigel Wickham. Simon Morgan is entered in a Van Diemen RF96, a car similar to that used by Mark Webber to claim Festival victory in 1996. Lucy Wardrop, James Chapman & Belgium’s Laurent Poncin are also Van Diemen exponents. John Whitbourn will represent Ray, as will Peter Bassill, while former event winner, Julian Hoskins, will take to the track in a Vector. Proving that many different types of Zetec cars are still in circulation, Matt Hayes will drive a Jamun – no Festival would be complete without one!!
Away from the Formula Fords, the Dunlop backed Ford Fiesta Championship has collated a very impressive grid of forty-one cars, across all classes. The champions of classes B and C are already decided so the main focus will be in Class A (Si) where David Elsom will expect to keep the challenge of Chris Toumazos at bay.
The title battle has gone right to the wire in the inaugural Motorsport News Fiesta Junior Championship. Charles Ladell arrives at Brands with a two-point lead over rival Jack Mitchell so with a double-header to come this weekend it really is too close to call.
The Duratecs and Pintos of the Sports 2000 Championship have both been fixtures on the Festival support schedule for several seasons and this year is no different. Headlining the BIGprofile sponsored championships are the Duratec cars, and these sportracers will entertain. Mike Jenvey has been the man to watch this season at the wheel of his Gunn, while Rob Oldershaw is another racer to keep an eye open for.
The traditional two litre Pinto class is also not short of potential race winners. Paul Streat has been a multiple winner this term, as has Damian Griffin. In the Historic section of the Pinto race, both Peter Needham
and Chris Snowdon have also shown great pace.
For the timetable and entry lists for the Festival, visit FORMULA FORD FESTIVAL