MARVELLOUS MALVERN!


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Festival winner Scott Malvern on the victory podium, flanked by Steijn Schothorst (left) and Nick McBride (right). Photo: Jakob Ebrey.

Fittingly, the 40th Formula Ford Festival weekend October 15-16 at Brands Hatch was blessed with glorious weather on the Saturday, with Sunday more overcast and chilly. In all, 21 races were scheduled over the 1.199 mile Indy Circuit.

Saturday's track action was largely taken up with practice and qualifying, with Formula Ford Festival Kent Heat 1 sponsored by Aireshelta kicking of the afternoon's racing. Californian Neil Alberico justified the faith of his Team USA Scholarship backers by taking a comfortable victory ahead of Team Canada's Xavier Coupal.

Team-mate Trent Hindman enjoyed an even bigger margin of victory in Heat Two sponsored by REIS, Cormac O'Neill taking second.

Formula Ford Duratec Heat 1, sponsored by MORIS, fell to Melbourne visitor Jack le Brocq, with newly-crowned Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Champion Scott Malvern claiming the honours in the Future Events backed Heat Two. Neil Tofts took the day's final victory laurels in the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance sponsored Zetec race. Long-standing Festival enthusiast Andrew Elliott donated the sponsorship of the Zetec races to the Air Ambulance service.

A dramatic Brabham Straight shunt for Philippe Layac and subsequent red flag meant that Duratec Quarter Final 1 sponsored by Lifeline Fire & Safety Systems came down to a four lap dash, Malvern continuing his winning ways in Sunday's curtain-raiser, ahead of Finland's Antti Buri.

Australian Le Brocq looked to have Quarter Final 2, sponsored by Cam-Tech Security, sewn up, but he pitted at half distance with a broken gearbox, handing victory to Dutchman Rogier de Wit.

Chris Snowdon and Niklas Johansson traded the lead throughout the Xennia Sports 2000 Historic 25 minute race, Snowdon's Tiga emerging victorious. Sports 2000 Duratec honours went to Neil Burroughs' Gunn. Snowdon also won the subsequent Pinto race.

Belgian Jimmy Adriaenssens won both outings for the Competition Car Insurance Ford Fiesta Classes A, B and D runners, Biggin Hill's Nikolas Barton also doubling up in Class B.

Two Safety Car interventions failed to deter Horsham's Matthew Parr as he took the Chequered Flag in the first Class C Fiesta qualifier. Heathfield's Harry Cockhill won Race Two.

Alberico and O'Neill took the top two spots in Kent Semi Final 1 sponsored by Haines Watts, but Hindman's chance of doubling up in Semi Final 2 sponsored by Cam-Tech Security disappeared when he was tapped into a spin, Coupal claiming an emphatic victory.

The first of two Duratec Semi Finals sponsored by NCPI Solutions saw Melbourne's Nick McBride climb from a lowly grid position to take top spot. Scott Malvern continued his winning ways in the second Semi Final.

The first of three 20-lap finals – the Formula Ford Zetec Final saw Tofts repeat his Saturday win in his Mygale SJ04. The story of the race was Festival returnee Rick Morris at the age of 65 driving from the back of the grid after a race one shunt to claim second in his Van Diemen RF01.At the other end of the age scale, 17-year-old Ashley Dibden showed great maturity in his Ray97 to take third spot on the podium.

Ballymena's Ivor McCullough made a storming start from third in the Kent Final to tail pole-sitter Xavier Coupal on the opening lap, moving his Van Diemen RF00 ahead in a move that started on the approach to Paddock Hill Bend on lap two and ended at Druids. Coupal then came under pressure from Alberico and contact between the pair at Druids sent Coupal into retirement and Alberico down to third. Kenneth Thirlwall held off a recovering Alberico to take second.

The Blue Riband Duratec Final closed the weekend's proceedings, with Malvern hotly tipped to add Festival honours to his Dunlop MSA National Championship. A clean getaway from pole gave him a vital advantage in the race's early stages. Dutchman Steijn Schothorst, third on the grid, made a better start than second-place man Nick McBride, the Australian having to settle for third as the field headed into Paddock Hill Bend.

The early laps saw a seven-car leading train headed by Malvern, but the pace of the leading trio saw them break away from their pursuers. Schothorst set a series of fastest laps in his Mygale SJ10 in his efforts to get on terms with Malvern and shake off the attentions of McBride's Mygale SJ11.

Malvern was able to stamp his authority on the race in the closing stages, and put daylight between his car and the battle for second, with McBride unable to make a passing manoeuvre stick, eventually dropping back off Schothorst's tail.

Behind the leading trio was a five-car battle for the minor placings, 2009 winner Chrissy Palmer claiming fourth in his Mygale SJ10.

The Saturday evening of the Festival weekend saw a 40th celebration dinner held in the MSV Centre at Brands Hatch, where over 225 guests were able to share reminiscences of Festivals past.

Results of the meeting can be found at CLICK HERE

The Festival was the BRSCC's last meeting of the year at Brands Hatch