SEASON REVIEW: DUNLOP FORD FIESTA CHAMPIONSHIP


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Jason Cooper was the champion of the popular ST class. Photo: www.johncooperphotographic.co.uk

The Ford Fiesta Championship in club guise has been going since the Ford Motor Company passed control of the older marques to Kevin Shortis at Ford Racing UK to start as a separate club championship.

In 1997, the Fiesta Si was the only marque racing and in the intervening period, the models have increased with a four-class championship in 2012. The Fiesta Si (1800cc 130bhp) now has the Fiesta Zetec (1400cc – 90bhp), Fiesta ST (2000cc – 150bhp) and now the Fiesta Zetec S (160cc – 120bhp) in the line-up.

In 2012, the popularity of the championship again allowed classes to be split to accommodate separate races as entries were oversubscribed on many occasions, resulting in forty-two Fiestas entered for the last event at the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch over the weekend of 27/28 October. From the start, the big interest lay in the Fiesta ST as many drivers both renewed their ties or embarked on a fresh racing career.

The eight-event weekend format has proved both popular and cost effective for competitors as Saturday is given over to a free practice session and then a formal qualifying session. The Sunday double header races are filmed and then edited action would appear on dedicated programmes on MotorsTV.

The early season saw a few drivers make inroads into their own class championship aspirations with Jason Cooper in his Fiesta ST and Nik Barton in his Fiesta Zetec stretch out early leads. The Fiesta Si class was equally interesting with Dave Elsom looking to make a name for himself.

The Si class (A) became a straight battle between Dave Eslom and Chris Toumazos and although both drivers endured some heart stopping moments along the way, it was Dave Elsom who secured the A class title at the very last race of the sixteen contested.

In the Fiesta Zetec class (B), the early battles between the young tiger Nik Barton and the mature Ken Bateman were a great reminder that good racing doesn’t have to be in the fastest, most expensive cars. These two drivers along with Rory Green, Keith Chapman and Michel Edwards all provided top-notch race action. Ultimately, Nik Barton did all that was required to secure his first Championship win.

The ST class (C) regularly saw a near two dozen entries and Cooper had his work cut out with spirited drives from rivals Nick Bowers, John Langridge and Aaron Trigwell. All these young men showed tremendous courage and expertise right through the season. Our more mature ST competitors also had a title to aim for in the form of the Veterans Cup. A clear winner emerged here, as Dave Abbott out-paced his rivals with a big margin to win and finish fifth overall in this class. The younger would prevail though and as the season progressed the undoubted talents saw Jason Cooper exert his talents to the maximum to take the Championship class honours.

The newest Fiesta Zetec S (D) made a few appearances for testing in race conditions and was raced to good effect by Daniels Motorsport who are now looking to produce and promote more of the marque in 2013.

The omens for 2013 are good. More drivers are being attracted to this niche championship, because not only it offers excellent value for money, but it is a great way to enjoy your racing or use it as a stepping-stone to other ‘higher’ forms of motorsport.

Kevin Shortis
Ford Racing UK