Formula Ford Stars At Brands Hatch Meeting

The British Racing & Sports Car Club hosted two days of racing at Brands Hatch, where the National Formula Ford Championship starred in their second of three events for 2020.

Fourteen of the seventeen entries of the National contingent were separated by just six tenths of a second in Qualifying, which set things up for what would be three hotly contested races. Double Oulton Park race winner Neil MacLennan only managed fourth on the grid in the Kevin Mills Racing Spectrum but stormed his way to the front of the pack by lap seven.

Chris Middlehurst (Van Diemen LA10) passed pole sitter Bryce Aron (Ray GR19) into Clearways on the opening lap but soon had MacLennan hunting him down after the latter passed his Team Dolan team-mate Ross Martin (Van Diemen RF99). After MacLennan made his move at Paddock Hill Bend, Middlehurst chased him to the flag but was unable to find a way back pass. Martin concluded the podium ahead of the Low Dempsey Ray’s of Jonathan Browne and Aron. Rory Smith completed the top six in the Medina JL18, albeit just 1.5 seconds behind the victor.

Middlehurst turned the tables in race two when he overhauled MacLennan on lap two and kept him behind to the flag. This time reigning champion Martin fell back – behind Browne, Smith, and Aron. Once more the top six by separated by fractions of a second throughout the 18-lap encounter. Returnee Stuart Gough kept the leading pack honest in the Oldfield Van Diemen.

Martin held a decent advantage throughout the first half of the final race, which featured a reverse grid. He was reeled in by Aron though at mid-distance and as they battled hard – it allowed others to catch and once more it was MacLennan that fought his way to the front to take his fourth victory in five races. Smith finished just 16 hundredths of a second behind. 

Martin held on to third with Browne, Aron and Luke Cooper (Swift SC18) biting at his heels – the four separated by less than three tenths at the flag. Jamie Sharp (Medina JL17) starred but had to retire with a lap to go after he got into third and race two winner Middlehurst spun at Druids early on. Sam Harrison (Royale RP29) and Peter Daly (Van Diemen RF88) shared the Northern honours.

Chris Middlehurst: Photo Credit Josh Barrett

Caterham Motorsport action dominated the weekend with eleven races. The quickest cars of the ladder, the 420Rs, compete for the Seven Championship UK this season and John Byrne continued his unbeaten record with two more comfortable victories. Stephen Nuthall and Jake Swann-Dixon completed the podium positions both times.

The 310R series saw a couple of typically close fights – with Tom Grensinger and James Murphy trading positions almost every lap into Paddock during the opener. Earlier contact saw Murphy’s nose and engine cover dramatically explode into the air at Paddock at mid-distance. That allowed Grensinger to escape and win with Murphy dropping to fourth behind Greg Monks and Lewis Thompson. Murphy fought back to win race two after a good scrap with Monks. The latter held on to second with Pete Walters beating Thompson to a near photo-finish for third.

Harry Cook clawed his way to the front of the opening 270R race after a poor start but threw away the lead with a trip through the gravel near the end, allowing Ben Lopez-Appleton his first victory of the season. Andy Lees beat Lars Alexander Hoffmann and Angelos Alvanos to second, while Cook dropped to sixth. Alvanos was another new winner, taking race two with the top 6 separated by 1.4 seconds after 31 laps. Lopez-Appleton and Hoffmann completed the podium, while Cook, Andrew Murgatroyd and Ryan Erroll missed out.

Tom Wyllys won the opening Roadsport Championship race as Alexander Conway missed out after contact with Blair McConachie. He held on to second though ahead of Harry Eyre. McConachie fought back in race two to narrowly beating Wyllys by 0.13 seconds; Carl Jones took third. Race three featured a red flag and short 15-minute restart where Eyre took his first victory of the year and was closely followed by Conway, Daryl Cresswell and Carl Jones.

Tom Cockerill led every lap of the opening Caterham Academy race for the green group. Chris Skillicorn and slow starting Gwyndaf Jones completed the podium. Jones fought through fantastically to win race two ahead of Cockerill and Skillicorn. Taylor O’Flanagan defended brilliantly to win both white group races. Simon Shaw took second ahead of Domenique Mannsperger, who had a trip through the gravel at Paddock on lap one and dropped to the back. He was third again in race two but behind Hugo Bush this time.

Steven Dailly dominated both Compact Cup races. Jordan Stilp came through from sixth the grid in the opener to take second ahead of Wayne Flint, Ben Huntley and Tom Griffiths in a closely fought battle. The podium was replicated in race two but with Ian Jones and Paul Maguire joining the battle instead of Huntley and Griffiths.

Steven Dailly: Photo Credit Josh Barrett

Reigning champion Simon Hill won twice in the Production GTi Championship. He beat James Colbourne and Simon Vercoe in race one after pole man Martyn Walsh slowed at the start. Walsh came through to second in race two, just 0.16 seconds behind the winner with Paul Blackburn taking third. Hill did not compete in race three allowing Walsh to win easily. Adam Hance and Vercoe completed the podium. 

The Classic & Modern Motorsport Club guested with three races. Adrian Bradley won the opener for the M3-dominated Super Saloons, with Rod Birley three seconds behind. Steve Burrows (Vauxhall Tigra) beat Ray Harris (Ginetta G40) to third and won the Intermarque division after Malcolm Blackman (Tigra) expired two laps from the flag. Harris won overall in race two after passing Burrows on the penultimate lap at Surtees in traffic. Birley was the best Saloon in third overall. Bradley Lane (Honda Civic) eased to victory in the 30-mintue Tin Tops race. Rod Birley / Jonathan Bevan (Honda Integra) passed Warren Johnson (Peugeot 205) near the end to take second.