•Wins number seven and eight for Antti and JTR•Buri and Jos Kiekens lift the Brands Hatch EuroCup trophies
The Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain reached the half-way mark at Brands Hatch yesterday, with Finland’s Antti Buri collecting another pair of wins to give him and the JTR team a clean sweep of the EcoBoost class at Brands and to bring his seasonal tally to eight wins from 12 races.
Buri also took home the EcoBoost EuroCup trophy from what was the first Formula Ford EuroCup meeting of the season, with 16-year-old Dutch driver Jos Kiekens securing the Duratec EuroCup trophy.
Round 11Buri’s seventh win of the season was a faultless display from the 23-year-old, who led from pole position to chequered flag and was never threatened by his pursuers - chiefly because they were busy disputing second place among themselves and handed Antti a clear run to the flag.
The three protagonists for the podium’s second step were Jamun Racing trio Luke Williams, Eric Lichtenstein and Jake Cook, who lined up on the grid in that order behind JTR’s pole man. Lichtenstein, who yesterday was unable to start after frying his clutch, endured pre-start problems again but managed to get away cleanly behind Williams, passing Luke on the second lap on one of the Grand Prix straights.
Williams shadowed the Argentinian for eight laps, breaking his own lap record along the way, before misjudging a passing manoeuvre at Clearways and spinning off into the gravel. The prior lap, Lichtenstein had narrowed Buri’s lead to 1.8s but after the incident with Williams lost more than half a second and, with only three laps remaining, had little hope of re-catching the Finn.
“No dramas today,” said Buri, “other than a bit of oil around the track, which made things tricky. I had a plan today that I wouldn’t look in my mirrors, and that’s what I did!”
Added Lichtenstein: “I had no clutch at all. Yesterday I could not start but today I managed to do it. The incident with Luke, he went inside me. It was too much, and he went off. Luckily he did not hit me.”
Cook kept a watching brief on the Lichtenstein/Williams battle but slipped back towards the end after, he thought, deranging his suspension on a kerb. Buri was 1.4s ahead of Lichtenstein at the line and Cook a further 5s adrift.
There was a four-way battle for much of the race between the other EcoBoost men, with Enigma’s Fred Martin-Dye holding off a determined-looking Cavan Corcoran to take fourth, with Ecuadorian 16-year-old Julio Moreno sixth, still nursing a sore wrist after his Rockingham shunt of a fortnight ago. Ryan Cullen was on for at least seventh but was forced to the pits with mechanical dramas two laps from the end.
The race provided a typically close battle among the Duratec-engined cars from the Benelux championship. Veteran Michel Florie and his Provily Racing team-mate Jos Kiekens, 16, battled brilliantly in the late stages, the youngster getting the advantage on the seventh lap to take the class win. Saturday class winner Bart van Os had led initially before stopping on the seventh lap. Another Dutch 16-year-old, GEVA’s Max van Splunteren, claimed third in class.
In the British Duratec division, points leader Fabian Welter led all the way for Rendez-Vous Racing, with Fluid’s Matt Rao moving into second spot after the third-lap demise of Enigma man Olly Rae. Transatlantic commuter Abdul Ahmed was third for Don Hardman Racing after a brief period ahead of Rao. Completing the field were George Blundell (Enigma) and James Hammond (Race Car Consultants), the latter surviving a lurid last-corner moment.
Round 12Buri extended his winning streak to six in a row in dominant fashion after controlling the final outing at Brands Hatch, snatching EuroCup glory in the process. He got a great start when the lights went out to spring into the lead into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time, and looked in control from then on.
Lichtenstein was his closest rival and managed to match the Finn’s pace during the early stages until Buri got the hammer down. “We’ve been struggling with tyre wear during the later stages of the races so I was just maintaining a pace,” said Buri. “I was looking after the fronts particularly as they were wearing badly but I had much better grip during the middle stages.”
It showed, too. Buri managed to gap Lichtenstein by a tenth a lap to extend his advantage to over two seconds before his JTR Mygale began to suffer the dreaded understeer. “I think I pushed too hard and I couldn’t get the front turned in,” he said. “I looked in my mirrors and suddenly Eric was right there.”
Lichtenstein chewed into Buri’s lead by seven tenths on the final lap alone, but it was too late and he trailed the winner by 0.7s at the flag. “My car is great when we can finish the race,” he said. “We’ve had so many reliability problems recently with silly little things that it’s nice to show our true pace for once. We’re still not there with JTR but we will be once we solve the problems.”
Behind the leading two the battle of the race unfolded for third. Jake Cook occupied the place early on ahead of Fred Martin-Dye, Julio Moreno and Luke Williams. Williams got a great getaway, having started a disappointing 13th after completing only six laps during qualifying due to mechanical issues. He vaulted past the Duratec runners off the line and was soon chasing Moreno.
Luke got things wrong into Paddock on lap three, running wide through the gravel but rejoining still on the tail of his rival. He dispatched Moreno a lap later and latched on to Martin-Dye. The fight allowed Cavan Corcoran to close in and the three ran together into Paddock on lap eight when the main flashpoint occurred. Williams got a good run on Martin-Dye but misjudged his drafting distance and dislodged his nosecone on the Enigma car’s gearbox. To avoid more damage Williams jinked left, but Corcoran was already there, eyeing a move around the outside of the corner.
Corcoran caught Williams’s left-rear Dunlop and his car was catapulted into the air, skipping across the gravel before clouting the tyres hard. Fortunately Corcoran emerged unscathed.
Things were not yet over. Williams lined up a move on Martin-Dye into Westfield but Martin-Dye tried to turn in, the two clashed and both hit the gravel. Williams kept his foot in and emerged in fifth, but it was game over for Martin-Dye.
Moreno, now a safe fourth, was on the cusp of scoring his fist podium, and his dream came true when Cook ran off the road into Sheene Curve and dropped behind. Jake recovered to pressure Moreno, but spun on the exit of Druids to end his challenge. “It was such a tough race,” said Moreno. “There were cars and battles everywhere. It’s my first podium and boy was I made to work for it. Hopefully we can move forward from here.”
The battle for the Duratec honours was even more closely fought. The Dutch contingent of Michel Florie, Jos Kiekens, Bart van Os and Max van Splunteren were inseparable all race. Florie led for the opening lap before Kiekens established himself at the head of the group.
Kiekens used the clean air to pull an early gap on his rivals but van Os wasn’t to be denied and used a strong draft up Hawthorn Hill to jink into the lead at the apex of the next corner, but Kiekens and van Splunteren were constant shadows. Van Splunteren’s race unfolded slightly when his second gear gave up into Druids with four laps remaining and he slipped back after running through the gravel at Paddock Hill.
“The race was crazy,” said van Os after claiming the win. “Every time I looked in my mirrors there was someone either side of me. Once I got ahead I just tried to get my lines right as it’s tough to overtake around here if you put your car in the right places.”
Fabian Welter upheld British championship honours ahead of Matt Rao, Abdul Ahmed, Gavin Halls and Alex Drabble. It was Welter’s eighth class win of the season, and his fourth on the trot, and it gives the young Mexican a healthy points lead as the championship takes its summer pause.
Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great BritainRound 11 (of 24), Brands Hatch Grand Prix 24/6/1212 laps / 29.20 miles
Overall & EcoBoost1 Antti BURI / FIN JTR Mygale 18m 04.144s / 96.95mph2 Eric LICHTENSTEIN / ARG Jamun Mygale +1.451s3 Jake COOK / GBR Jamun Mygale +6.406s4 Fred MARTIN-DYE /GBR Enigma Mygale +13.182s5 Cavan CORCORAN / GBR JTR Mygale +13.334s6 Julio MORENO / ECU JTR Mygale +13.653sEurocup Duratec1 Jos KIEKENS / NED Provily Mygale +37.675s2 Michel FLORIE / NED Provily Mygale +42.831s3 Max van SPLUNTEREN / NED GEVA Mygale +44.188sBritish Duratec1 Fabian WELTER / MEX RVR Mygale +44.800s2 Matt RAO / GBR Fluid Van Diemen +54.002s3 Abdul AHMED / USA Hardman Ray +54.624s4 George BLUNDELL / GBR Enigma Mygale +54.788sFastest lap Luke WILLIAMS / GBR Jamun Mygale 1m 28.952s / 98.47mph Rec
Round 12 / 12 laps / 29.20 miles
Overall & EcoBoost1 BURI 18m 05.441s / 96.84mph2 LICHTENSTEIN +0.736s3 MORENO +16.255s4 WILLIAMS +23.763s5 COOK +25.170sEurocup Duratec1 Bart van OS / NED GEVA Mygale +40.273s2 KIEKENS +40.908s3 van SPLUNTEREN +45.001s4 FLORIE +47.804sBritish Duratec1 WELTER +49.206s2 RAO +52.035s3 AHMED +57.848s4 Alex DRABBLE / GBR Fluid Van Diemen +1m 08.073sFastest lap BURI 1m 29.571s / 97.79mph
Brands Hatch EuroCup awardsEcoBoost 1 Buri, 2 Lichtenstein, 3 WilliamsDuratec 1 Kiekens, 2 van Os, 3 van Splunteren
Full results http://bit.ly/LGmwVh
Provisional championship standingsOverall 1 Buri 350 points; 2 Cook 233; 3 Moreno 208; 4 Corcoran 204; 5 Williams 199; 6 Fred Martin-Dye 198 etcDuratec 1 Welter 345; 2 Rao 232; 3 Blundell 226; 4 Olly Rae 218; 5 Drabble 153; 6 Ahmed 120 etc.
Next EuroCup rounds 7/8 July Spa-Francorchamps, BelgiumNext Formula Ford GB rounds 28/29 July Nürburgring, Germany