Sutton on top of mixed weather Brands Formula Ford tests

Ashley Sutton shines in the wet and the dry in final pre-event test of the season

Championship title-fighters Jayde Kruger and Harrison Scott both confident after setting strong times

All eyes were on championship protagonists Jayde Kruger and Harrison Scott Friday at Brands Hatch, but it was Ashley Sutton who showed the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford title-fighters the way around the 2.4-mile Brands Grand Prix circuit in pre-event testing.

Sutton’s MBM Motorsport-prepared EcoBoost Mygale was quickest wet and dry, outpacing Kruger’s JTR machine by seven-tenths of a second in the few dry laps permitted during the shower-hit morning session. In the afternoon, on a damp surface, Ashley bested the South African by two tenths of a second. “It’s been a good day,” said Sutton, “and I feel we will be competitive throughout the weekend whatever the weather may throw at us.”

Kruger, who ties on points with Falcon Motorsport man Scott ahead of the three-race Brands Hatch Formula Ford finale, was encouraged by his pace also: “Ashley stayed out in the dry a little longer than us; I hadn’t been on the Grand Prix circuit in a year, so my first eight laps were spent just trying to familiarise myself with the circuit. Then it rained… It’s hard to say what might have happened had it stayed dry, but my car feels good and was quick also in the wet, so I’m reasonably confident.”

Scott’s early lap times in the dry went unrecorded due to a glitch with his car’s on-board timing transponder, but Harrison was happy with his pace: “We didn’t have a working transponder, but my times were I think quite quick. And in the wet the car was good also; whatever happens, wet or dry, we have a competitive car and we’ll see what happens over the course of the weekend.” In the afternoon session Scott was third quickest behind Scott and Kruger, with half a second separating the trio.

Harrison learned this week that he has been selected as one of the six young-driver finalists in the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award. The contestants will be assessed in Formula 2, DTM Mercedes and McLaren GT3 machinery on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit later this month.

The judging panel includes ex-Formula 1 racer and BRDC president Derek Warwick, British Touring Car Championship star Jason Plato, team boss and former GT racer Andrew Kirkaldy, McLaren head of vehicle engineering Mark Williams, circuit commentator Ian Titchmarsh and Motorsport News editor Kevin Turner. The winner, whose identity will be revealed at the Autosport Awards in December, will receive £100,000 and a McLaren F1 test drive.

Today’s quick times were all set in the first half of the morning session, before running was interrupted by a shower and a brief red flag period caused by a spin for Chris Mealin (Falcon); Chris was hit by the downpour as he approached Clearways and he spun into the gravel trap and tyre wall. “I was caught out by the sudden change in conditions and the car snapped round on me,” said Manxman Chris, who was unhurt in the incident. There was a further stoppage close to the end of the session when returning driver Jack Barlow went off at the Druids hairpin, knocking a front wheel off his MBM Motorsport Mygale.

Barlow set fourth-quickest time before his off, a shade slower than the pace set by Richardson Racing’s Louise Richardson.

Qualifying is scheduled for 0930 tomorrow at Brands Hatch, with the first race of the weekend at 1350. Two races follow on Sunday, with the championship finale televised live on ITV4 at 1540.

*Outgoing Formula Ford Champion Dan Cammish made an impressive debut in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Brands Hatch today, posting second-quickest time in pre-event testing at the wheel of his Team Parker Racing-prepared car. Cammish claimed the 2013 Formula Ford crown thanks to 24 consecutive victories for the JTR team.