James Cole finishes in Top Six at Brands Hatch
James Cole took the chequered flag in the final of his first Formula Ford Festival in 6th position at Brands Hatch yesterday.
20 year-old James headed to the Kent circuit following his top ten finish in his inaugural British Formula Ford Championship last weekend and made an impressive Festival debut. Despite a trip off the damp track into the tyre barriers during testing on Tuesday, where James sustained a fractured left wrist, he was determined to compete at the weekend despite being in obvious discomfort and pain. James qualified in an encouraging 8th position, despite his injury, to sit on the fourth row of the grid for the start of the Formula Ford Festival Duratec Heat 2 race on Saturday afternoon.
James took Kevin Magnussen (Aguila DZ1 08) for 7th position on lap two, but dropped back to 8th on lap six. An ongoing battle ensued between James and Chrissy Palmer (Ray GR06) which saw both cars swapping positions on a number of occasions, with James finally holding on to 8th place from lap 11 to the end of the heat.
The weather was dry and cool on Sunday morning for the last day of the Festival and James started the Duratec Semi Final Heat 1 behind Jamun Racing team-mates Tim Blanchard (in P3) and pole sitter Victor Correa. James made up a position after a rapid start, but on the dash up to Druids two cars became entangled and the safety car was deployed. On its return to the pits at the start of lap four, James was then able to overtake Sepp Koster (Van Uitert) in a charge to take sixth position.
The wait behind the safety car had bunched the impatient leaders together and at Druids Bend, David Brown took Nick Tandy into the gravel as they vied for the lead into the tight right-hander. James was now running in third place behind the safety car, which was deployed until lap 10. A mere couple of tenths of a second separated the top three drivers all the way to the end of the race. James set the fastest lap time of 48.516 seconds on lap 12 and continued to worry the front runners whilst skilfully keeping Koster behind him. James crossed the finish line with his front left wheel daringly close alongside Blanchard and only 0.247 seconds behind race winner Nick Percat (Joe Tandy Racing). The Formula Ford Festival always provides exciting racing and the Duratec final at Brands Hatch today did not disappoint.
With Jamun/Mygale team-mate and 2008 British Formula Ford Champion Wayne Boyd starting on pole, it was always going to be a dramatic 25-lap race. James started from the 3rd row on the grid and embarked on a titanic battle with Rogier De Wit (Joe Tandy Racing), Percat and Koster. Regaining sixth place when De Wit fumbled on lap six, James then came under pressure from Tandy, winner of the Duratec class in 2007. Once Tandy was through, James maintained his sixth position until the end of the race and set a personal best lap time of 48.382 seconds (lap 12).
James Cole: “I am really pleased with our result here today. Considering that I did not think I would be competing on Thursday when I found out that I’d fractured my wrist, I am really very happy and I just took it one step at a time. For qualifying we managed to put in some decent laps and we just wanted to get through the heat in a relatively safe position. We pushed harder in the semi-final to improve our pace and it paid off. We had a bit of luck, but you never know what is going to happen in the Festival final and it was a good race for me, so I am really happy. I would like to thank Jamun Racing – I have had a great first Formula Ford season and this weekend has been a good result for me.”