SEASON REVIEW: FORMULA JEDI CHAMPIONSHIP


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Richard Mitcham successfully defended his Formula Jedi title. Photo: www.johncooperphotographic.co.uk

The Formula Jedi Championship ran for its 16thseason in 2012, and proved that it still provides some of the fastest and most competitive club single-seater racing in the UK. Once again, the drivers and teams benefited from full spares support from Jedi Racing cars Ltd, as well as tyre back up from Avon supplier BMTR and race admin from the BRSCC.

In what might be his last full campaign in Formula Jedi, Richard Mitcham went into the season eager to defend his 2011 title, and two wins at the opening rounds at Silverstone proved that he was definitely going to be man to beat again. However, Mitcham was run close by 2010 champion Andrew Dunn before mechanical gremlins appeared, and Barry Armstrong, who put in two great drives to settle himself just below Mitcham in the championship table.

All the good work at Silverstone seemed to come undone for Mitcham though as engine failure at Anglesey during the second race weekend of the season dropped him off the top of the table. Dunn took a brace of wins to take the points lead ahead of Armstrong, whose consistent race finishes saw him also leapfrog Mitcham. Other notable performances of that weekend came from Matt Bett and Andy Ward, both having their best results in the championship by sharing the race runner up spots and Bett also taking a pole position.

Unfortunately for Dunn, the pendulum of luck decided to swing the other way as the championship arrived for rounds five and six at Cadwell Park, resulting in two DNF’S. Knowing also that he could not attend the next races at Snetterton all but ended any chance of winning the title. Outright Cadwell lap record holder, Mitcham responded by taking a clear win in the first race of the weekend , ahead of another great drive by Ward and Armstrong who took his second podium of the year. However, Mitcham was denied a clean sweep of wins at his home track in what was one of the talking points of the season. James Fletcher, who narrowly lost out to Mitcham in the 2011 title fight, returned to Formula Jedi for a one-off weekend from Formula Renault. After missing the first race due to car damage sustained in testing, Fletcher put in one of the drives of the year in a wet race two, chopping into Mitcham’s eight-second lead and passing for the win on the very last corner. Mitcham though was again at the top of the points with Armstrong hanging on to second in front of Indian driver Alok Iyengar who had climbed to third.

After Cadwell, Mitcham and his family run team seemed to regroup and over the course of the next two race weekends; at Snetterton and Rockingham, he drove brilliantly to net four race wins. The podiums were shared by no less than six drivers: Dan Clowes, Lee Morgan, Bett, Ward, Iyengar and the returning Dunn. The penultimate race meeting at Oulton Park would give Mitcham a chance to wrap up the championship, and despite some extremely close racing and early race leads from Clowes, this is exactly what he did by winning another two races and taking the 2012 crown. Dunn and Clowes shared the runner up spots over the two races with Morgan securing two thirds.

Donington Park was to end the 2012 season and although the championship had been won, with Mitcham also deciding to miss the meeting, the final two championship podium positions were going to be hotly contested. Only eleven points separated Iyengar, who now occupied second spot in the points table and third placed Armstrong, with Bett snapping at their heels just two points further behind. In fact, the second to ninth placed drivers were only covered by sixty-two points with eighty up for grabs. Morgan had the most success, taking two race wins in front of newcomer and ex-Caterham racer James Maclachlan, and Bett. Iyengar and Armstrong both had an unproductive weekend dropping them down the points behind Bett and Morgan, who took second and third in the championship.

The Formula Jedi Club Class, a good introduction to the championship catering for cars with older engines, saw the race wins shared between three drivers. Michael Watton, Richard Moorcroft and Will Picken all took the chequered flag and shared podium finishes with karting graduate Ben Spurge and 2010 Club Class champion Rob Sayell. However, it was Watton who took the overall 2012 Club honours with eight wins from the fourteen races, ahead of Moorcroft and Spurge.

For more information about the championship visit www.formulajedi.com

Frazer Corbyn