Noel Dunne turned an opportunistic move for the lead into a dominant win in the second 15 lap Kent semi-final at the Formula Ford Festival.
Dunne’s victory hinged to two events in the opening lap. First, his passing of Graham Carroll and Oliver White, at the start of the second lap after the leading pair both ran wide at Paddock Hill Bend, tripping through the gravel. The second was a safety car period – or rather his restart from it – after Regis Prevost had spun into the gravel at the foot of Paddock Hill.
On the restart Dunne broke away from Craig Currie, running in second having followed Dunne past the errant leaders and as the lead grew Currie was increasingly holding up those behind, becoming the head of a four car battle for second that included the recovering Carroll and White.
Both began to move forward at the same time, the two men making similar moves on the inside line at Paddock Hill Bend, Carroll taking second from Currie, White fourth from Stuart Gough. While Carroll moved clear of Currie in second place White had to endure several frustrating laps behind the white #3 car, searching for a way past – around the outside of Paddock, up the inside of McLaren. A second look around the outside of Paddock Hill Bend yielded the desired result, White slinging right around Currie to move ahead on the way back up the hill towards Druids.
Despite the early fast men being back into second and third Dunne looked assured up front, his lead extending from 2.813 when Carroll took second to nearly nine second at the end of the race. Rather than catching Dunne to mount a challenge to retake the lead, Carroll was losing ground to White once the latter was released from behind Currie, only four tenths of a second between the pair at the end of the race.
Gough took fourth, demoting Currie to the rear of the four cars he led to the restart. Despite starting on pole Jack Mitchell Jr. finished sixth after slipping back on the opening lap. Trying to defend his lead at Druids on the opening lap the Cliff Dempsey Racing/Team USA driver took an extreme wide line at Druids, Carroll leading a number of drivers through the vacuum-like gap that appeared on the inside line to take the early lead.
Dunne will lead off the outside of the grid from second on the grid of the Kent final, first semi-final winner Tristan Nunez starting from pole position.
(Photos courtesy of http://www.gazhphotography.co.uk/)