18 MAY 2012 - Eric Lichtenstein this evening became the fourth different winner in as many races in the 2012 Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain, the Argentinian Jamun Racing pilot battling through from third on the grid to seize control of a rain and curfew-hit race at Brands Hatch, the opening encounter of the DTM weekend.
Though only a 10-lapper, round four of the championship was a true Formula Ford thriller and an appetite-whetter for what is shaping up to be a close and competitive season for the all-new EcoBoost-powered Formula Ford chassis.
Lichtenstein headed home round one victor and championship leader Antti Buri, with Mexico’s Fabian Welter triumphing in the Duratec division to collect his third class win of the season.
The dry conditions of this morning’s qualifying session suited JTR driver Buri perfectly; the Finn and Jamun’s Luke Williams were the only men under the 47-second mark around the 1.2-mile Indy circuit to secure the front row of the grid, ahead of Lichtenstein, Cavan Corcoran (JTR) and Jake Cook (Jamun), with Dutch guest racer Melroy Heemskerk sixth for the GEVA team.
A sharp shower before the start of the race required a switch to grooved Dunlops, and settings guesswork on behalf of the teams, not least for Buri, who had not tested in the wet at Brands. Antti nonetheless made an impeccable start from the pole to pull a useful early lead over his pursuers, with Lichtenstein overhauling his team-mate Williams away from the line to give chase.
As the track dried, so Buri began to struggle to maintain his advantage; going into lap six his 1.1s lead was reduced to just two-tenths by the Argentinian. Two laps later through Paddock Hill Bend Eric pounced, diving up Buri’s inside and holding station all the way up Hailwoods Hill and around the Druids hairpin, where Antti was forced to cede his lead, and also second place to Williams.
Alas Luke undid all his good work next lap around, hooking a wheel on to the kerb through Paddock and spinning off to hand second place back to Buri.
“The problem was wet tyres on a drying track,” said Buri. “I started out all right but I couldn’t get any better pace - that was my pace, from lap one to the chequered flag. But still, second place is good for the championship.”
Lichtenstein crossed the line for his maiden Formula Ford win with a 1.9s advantage. “At first I was a little bit cautious,” said Eric. “I didn’t know what the track conditions were like, then towards the end of the race the car was behaving very well so I started to push and managed to get a few tenths clear.”
Cook more than made up for a disappointing qualifying with a charging drive, lifting fourth place from Corcoran on lap three and then relieving his team-mate Williams of third. Luke fought back past Jake two laps later but the latter’s spin handed the final EcoBoost podium slot back to a grateful Cook, with Corcoran fourth for his best-yet finish, and Fred Martin-Dye fifth - and top Rookie - in the Rendez-Vous Racing Mygale.
Welter revelled in the conditions to haul his RVR Mygale up from 11th on the grid to seventh on the opening lap, which position he held until promoted to sixth by Williams’s exit. Fabian was 2.3s ahead of his closest Duratec rival, Fluid Van Diemen man Matt Rao, at the line. “At the beginning when it was wet the car was perfect,” said Welter. “But after the second lap the track started to dry and the tyres were struggling; it was quite tough. But it’s good to win again.”
Heemskerk, who ran wide through the Paddock gravel trap on the opening lap, fought back to eighth by the end, ahead of JTR’s Ecuadorian driver Julio Moreno and Ryan Cullen, with American Charles Anti beating Australian Olly Rae to 11th, and third place in the Duratec class, to secure a stylish first Formula Ford race finish.
With Abdul Ahmed and Alex Drabble tangling at Druids on the final lap and joining Williams in retirement, the final finishers were guest driver Jason Down and Enigma’s George Blundell.
Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great BritainRound 4 (of 24), Brands Hatch 18/5/1210 laps / 11.99 miles
Overall & EcoBoost1 Eric LICHTENSTEIN / ARG Jamun Mygale 8m 42.063s / 82.65mph2 Antti BURI / FIN JTR Mygale +1.884s3 Jake COOK / GBR Jamun Mygale +3.181s4 Cavan CORCORAN / GBR JTR Mygale +3.786s5 Fred MARTIN-DYE / GBR Enigma Mygale +14.341s etcDuratec class1 Fabian WELTER / MEX RVR Mygale +17.984s2 Mat RAO / GBR Fluid Van Diemen +17.994s3 Charles ANTI / USA AntiSpeed Mygale +19.850s etcFastest lap: Corcoran 50.280s / 85.82mph
Full results britishformulaford.co.uk/2012results.htm
Provisional championship standingsOverall 1 Buri 109 points; 2 Cook 106; 3 Lichtenstein 79; 4 Martin-Dye 78; 5 Moreno 68; 6 Corcoran 61 etcDuratec 1 Welter 114; 2 Ken Thirlwall 84; 3 Blundell 69; 4 Rae 66; 5 Rao 54; 6 Anti 24 etc
Next round 19 May, Brands Hatch