FORMULA FORD FESTIVAL 2015
If any one meeting could be described as the BRSCC's 'blue riband' event it is the Formula Ford Festival. Taking place each October at Brands Hatch, the Festival made the Motorsport News top ten of world-wide events that every driver wants to win!
Festival success has lead to greater achievement on the Grand Prix stage for many drivers. Johnny Herbert, Roland Ratzenberger, Eddie Irvine, Mark Webber Jenson Button and Anthony Davidson are just some of the names on the Festival’s roll of honour.
Festival winner Wayne Boyd is flanked by Liam and Mary Shanahan after they presented the 'Neil Shanahan Trophy' to him. Photo: Gary Hawkins
FORMULA FORD FESTIVAL 2015
The BRSCC South Eastern Centre's final race meeting of the season took place October 24 and 25, together with BRSCC HQ for the Formula Ford Festival, as usual over Brands Hatch's 1.199 mile Indy Circuit featuring a 21-race programme. A grey start on Saturday looked likely to result in rain, while Sunday remained gloriously sunny, if a little chilly, all day.
A 12-lap Formula Ford Festival Heat 1 sponsored by MORIS kicked off the main event action, with the track damp from the earlier rain. Temple Patrick’s Wayne Boyd – victorious in 2008 - showed his class by dominating the race from pole in his Van Diemen MS13. A chasing Luke Williams dropped to third avoiding a backmarker in his Ray GR13, handing second to Team USA Scholarship winner Michai Stephens in his Cliff Dempsey Racing-run Ray GR13.
Festival Heat 2 sponsored by Cartek saw a dominant victory for Stephen Daly, the Gloucester man mastering the drying track best in his Ray GR11. Joey Foster, a Festival winner in both 2003 and 2004 (Kent) took second, complaining from a lack of traction in his GR08, with Naas’s Jake Byrne completing the podium in his GR13.
Heat 3 sponsored by REIS Motorsport Insurance followed and proved the most competitive of all. County Kildare’ Kevin O’Hara’s start from pole in his Van Diemen RF01 was far from ideal, handing the advantage to reigning Festival champion James Raven, who overcooked it at Graham Hill Bend on the opening lap, sending his Ray GR13/14 way up the grass and way down the order. Michael Adams, in the Team Canada Scholarship Ray GR08/09 headed home Belfast’s Jonny McMullan in his Van Diemen LA10 and O’Hara.
Richard Tarling (#56) does battle with Ivor McCullough in the Masters race - Photo: Gary Hawkins
Impending nightfall greeted the Classic Formula Ford Trophy runners, their 15-lapper finishing in the gloom. Richard Tarling, Festival runner-up in 1997, won in his Van Diemen RF 80, ahead of Frenchman Gislain Genecaud in his Crossle 25F and the evergreen Mike Gardner in his Crossle 2F.
Sunday’s 15 lap Festival Semi-Finals ran back-to-back. Semi Final 1 sponsored by NCPI Solutions, saw Boyd start from pole ahead of Foster. The pre-event favourite eked out a comfortable lead by the Chequered Flag, with Foster a similar distance ahead of Dublin’s Robert Barrable in his Ray GR10.
Semi Final 2 sponsored by Cam-Tech Security suffered a lengthy mid-race Safety Car interlude, with two cars interlocked at Druids. Daly continued his winning ways ahead of Williams and Michai Stephens’ Team USA Scholarship team-mate Dakota Dickerson.
Semi Final 3 sponsored by NCPI Solutions suffered an early Red Flag with four cars, including Adams, tangling at Graham Hill Bend. With time considerations in mind, the rerun was over 13 laps. 2013 winner Niall Murray – a little subdued in his wet Heat, proved more at home in the dry, his Van Diemen RF99 just edging past Byrne and Stephens.
A popular addition to the programme was the Formula Ford Festival Masters sponsored by Avon Tyres race, which had its origins in comments from a couple of one-time Brands Festival regulars that an ‘Oldies’ race would be good fun. With all previous Festival competitors eligible, organisers were delighted to welcome former Grand Prix stars Martin Donnelly and Tiff Needell, with double Kent category winner Ivor McCullough amongst the runners. 1997 runner-up seemed to have made a demon start from the second row, but officials deemed it to have been out of position, dicking him 10 seconds. A subsequent spin put him further out of contention, with McCullough’s Van Diemen RF00 claiming another Festival garland, ahead of Andy Charsley – one of the keen oldies – in his Ray GR15. Jay Bridger was third in his Mygale SJ2001. The race – initially considered a ‘one-off’ to mark the 40th running of the Festival at Brands Hatch (see below) – may well be repeated next year.
Wayne Boyd (leading) kept the chasing pack at bay in the Final to claim his second Festival victory - Photo: Gary Hawkins
The grid for the 15-lap Historic Formula Ford Festival Final sponsored by Haines Watt was formed from the eligible cars' SF placings. A cracking race saw Ryan Campbell win in his Mondiale 89MS ahead of Matthew Cowley’s Reynard FF88 and Conor Murphy’s Van Diemen RF83.
Festival runners who hadn’t qualified directly for the Final had an eight-lap Lace Chance Race sponsored by Cam-Tech Security. 2014 Festival winner James Raven, starting from the back row, looked to have dome enough by working his way up to sixth, but inexplicably veered of the track exiting Clark Curve with a couple of laps left. Jonny McMullan (Van Diemen LA10), Neil MacLennan (Ray GR10) and Matthew Cowley were the top three (of six) qualifiers.
The Festival closed with the traditional 20-lap Final. Boyd made a good start to head Daly into the first couple of corners, but Daly’s close attentions were to prove his undoing as contact with Boyd saw his nose-cone go flying, allowing Foster and Murray to close in, with Foster moving into second place at Paddock Hill Bend, only to cede the place back a couple of laps later.
The frantic action looked set to last the duration of the Final, but as the leading pack exited Surtees, Murray’s car emitted a tell-tale stream of smoke, the resultant oil loss catching out a number of pursuing cars, including Foster. The scale of the spillage and need to retrieve cars forced Race Control to throw the Red Flag, with a restart over 10 laps.
With parc fermé conditions imposed, Daly was unable to repair his nose-cone damage, and once again, had to give best to the fast-starting Boyd. Byrne and Williams joined in the action, but a clash on the approach to Druids on lap 4 dropped Daly down the order and resulted in retirement for Williams and Byrne.
Boyd, celebrating his 25th birthday, moved comfortably clear of the remaining pursuers with Barrable and Stuart Gough (Van Diemen RF92) completing the podium. Boyd’s victory made him the first competitor to win the Festival twice at Brands Hatch.
1973 and 1978 Festival winner Don MacLeod’s victories were achieved at two different tracks, and we were delighted that Don was one of a number of former Festival alumni to attend a celebratory dinner, marking the 40th running of the Festival at Brands. Also among the guests of honour were 1975 winner Geoff Lees and 1984 winner Gerrit van Kouwen. We were also graced with the presence of Grand Prix racers Martin Donnelly, Ralph Firman Junior and Tiff Needell. Tiff had kindly agreed to deliver an After Dinner Speech, which proved to be amusing and evocative.
Some of the Masters contingent including Tiff Needell (second from right) on the podium with Brian Jones - Photo: Gary Hawkins)
The evening also allowed "Voice of the Festival" Brian Jones to share some of his own memories of past Festivals and a commentating career which he would be calling a halt to at the conclusion of the Festival. A commemorative bowl was presented to Brian in recognition of his contribution to the event.
Click here for the BRANDS HATCH RESULTS (http://www.tsl-timing.com/event/154331)