Formula Ford Festival

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.”