RAVEN FLIES TO FESTIVAL VICTORY


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James Raven (centre) with his Festival final trophy haul, flanked by Jonny McMullan (left) and Stuart Gough (right). Photo: Gary Hawkins Photography

The BRSCC South Eastern Centre's final race meeting of the season took place October 25 and 26 together with BRSCC HQ for the Formula Ford Festival, as usual over Brands Hatch's 1.199 mile Indy Circuit featuring a 19-race programme. Saturday dawned overcast, with the sun making a welcome appearance mid-afternoon, with Sunday similar, but altogether colder and gloomier towards the end of the day with the reversion to GMT overnight.

As with 2013, the day's racing action kicked off with a 12-lap Kent Festival Heat 1 sponsored by Haines Watts. Team USA Scholarship winner Aaron Telitz put down a marker for the weekend with a composed victory in his Cliff Dempsey Racing-run Ray GR09 ahead of Belfast's Jonny McMullan's Ray GR07 and Naas's Jake Byrne's GR13. Portsmouth's James Raven – second on the road – was penalised for a Yellow Flag infringement in his Ray GR13/14.

Heat 2 sponsored by REIS suffered two Safety Car interruptions, leaving 2008 winner and 2013 runner-up Wayne Boyd to take the Chequered Flag in his Van Diemen MS13, from St Helens' Chris Middlehurst's Mygale GV14-K and Elderslie's Ciaran Haggerty's Ray GR14.

We were pleased to welcome back the Patch Tyre Equipment runners over from Ireland for a pair of 15-minute races. A hectic lead battle saw John Denning emerge victorious ahead of Philip Lawless and Sean Lillis. Lillis rose to the top of the pile in Sunday's second outing, with Denning and Lawless completing the podium.

BIGProfile Sports 2000 Historic runners were next for a 20-minute race with Chris Snowdon and Michael Gibbins enjoying an entertaining lead battle, which pulled them well clear of Clive Steeper.

Saturday's race action closed with a 20-minute BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship race. Thomas Grundy and Michael Higgs' second and third place scrap allowed Aaron Thompson to pull clear at the head of the field. Sunday's outing saw Thompson double his winning tally, with Higgs second and Samuel Watkins third.

Further Fiesta action kicked off Sunday's racing, with a 20-minute Jam-Sport Ford Fiesta qualifier for Classes A, B and D. The D Class runners took overall honours, with Edward Cockill and Jordan Annells well clear of David Abbott in third. Special mention goes to BRSCC SE Centre Committee member Pete Daniels, who was first A Class runner in a rare race outing. Sunday's second outing saw the same outcome overall and Class.

The Kent Festival field progressed to Semi Finals 1 and 2, both 15-lappers sponsored by NCPI Solutions. Telitz and Middlehurst took the two top spots in SF1, with Raven third. Two Safety Car interruptions resulted in a one-lap shoot out.

The first Jam-Sport Ford Fiesta Class C race was scheduled for 20 minutes, but was declared after three laps and two Red Flags. An opening lap Paddock Hill Bend coming together and difficulties with the resultant vehicle recovery called for a rerun, which was itself flagged off when Samuel Priest’s recovery ran into problems. David Ellesley, David Grady and Daniel Holland formed the podium. Race 2 ran just about to full duration, with Ellesley collecting a brace of wins. Simon Horrobin was second, with Holland repeating his third place.

Kent Semi-Final 2 saw three fancied runners fall by the wayside, with a broken damper pitching Boyd off at Paddock Hill Bend and eventual retirement, Neville Smyth losing a wheel at two-thirds distance and Telitz's Team USA Scholarship team-mate Michai Stephens tripping up over Festival veteran Rick Morris. McMullan benefited from their misfortunes to claim top spot, with Stuart Gough's venerable Van Diemen RF92 second, and Haggerty third.

The Festival Duratec and Zetec runners went straight into a 15 lap Semi Final, with John Whitbourn taking victory ahead of Julian Hoskins and Eric Heudicourt.

Chris Snowdon made it two from two in the BIGProfile Sports 2000 Pinto, once again from Michael Gibbins and Clive Steeper.

The grid for the Historic Formula Ford Festival Final sponsored by Haines Watts was formed from the eligible cars' SF placings. Ryan Campbell's Mondiale M89F was the class of the field, finishing well ahead of Michael Thompson's Quest MT86 and Ben Tinkler's Reynard FF89. Thompson's car was later found to be underweight, promoting Tinkler up the order and Henry Campbell's Reynard FF83 onto the podium.

The weekend's longest race was the half-hour BIGProfile Sports 2000 Duratec outing. Patrick Sherrington's MCR finished a street ahead of David Houghton's Van Diemen RFSC02 and Tom Stoten's Gunn TS11.

The Duratec and Zetec Festival Final sponsored by Cam-Tech Security was the weekend's penultimate race. Whitbourn finished just adrift of Thomas Craincourt, but his over-ambitious start earned him a 10-second penalty, dropping him to third and elevating Hoskins to second.

The Festival closed with the traditional 20-lap Final. With SF1's Safety Car interventions rendering it a slower race, SF2 victor McMullan started on pole and made a better start than Telitz, who had to give chase for the first time. His eagerness to get to the front was to prove his undoing, as he overcooked it at Paddock Hill Bend at the start of Lap 4, plunging into the Paddock Hill gravel trap and retirement. Later that lap, Middlehurst's hopes went up in a puff of smoke as something gave way rounding Surteees. Following a brief Safety Car interlude, Raven made the move on McMullan to take a lead he was to hold to the end. McMullan finished a relatively distant second, with Gough third. Haggerty's grassy excursion dropped him down the order and he could only recover to 10th.

Haggerty is being mentored by fellow Scot Dario Franchitti, and the Indycar legend was at the circuit on Friday and Saturday to offer advice to his protégé. We were also pleased to welcome 1978 Festival winner Michael Roe and 1984 winner and regular returnee Gerrit van Kouwen.

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COLIN MANN