Ivor McCullough successfully defended his Formula Ford Festival Kent title, winning a frantic, shortened final on the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit.
Initially intended to run to 20 laps of the 1.2 mile track the race was cut to just 13 laps after a succession of incidents, the race finally stopped after Ben Mitchell spun at Clearways, ending stranded in the middle of the track as the race – briefly – continued around him.
Mitchell’s spin put him out of fourth place, chasing Luke Cooper for third place, but he was not the first front runner to lose ground in a topsy-turvy race.
From the line – despite the better start of the front row – Tristan Nunez failed to convert pole position into the race lead, instead Noel Dunne ran around his outside at Paddock Hill Bend to lead up to Druids on the opening lap, Graham Carroll, who finished second to Dunne in the second semi-final, also finding a way past Nunez in the opening corners for second place.
The Team USA driver, who fought back from third to win his semi-final, was pushed for third place, Oliver White searching for a way past, pulling briefly alongside on Bottom Straight on the second lap. However, as he tried to maintain the position around Clearways and Clark White ran into the gravel, dropping down to tenth as Nunez, relieved of the pressure from behind turned his full attention on Carroll and Dunne. The trio were covered by less than three tenths of a second as they began lap six, Nunez looking for a way past Carroll on the inside line for Paddock Hill Bend, almost entering the corner three abreast.
However, Nunez’s move – which could have easily given him the lead – was over ambitious and the American ran wide into the gravel, delaying Dunne in the process with Carroll taking the lead, though he was to pit and retire with mechanical issues.
The Paddock Hill skirmish had promoted McCullough to second, which became the lead with Carroll’s retirement. Stuart Gough picked up second place, Luke Copper third, though only after Noel Dunne had bowed out of the race in the pits.
Nunez’s trip through the gravel dropped him to 25th of the 27 cars still running to start lap six.
Given the lead McCullough began to eke out his lead, adding sixth tenths to the second lead he had over Gough before the red flag. In the space of a lap David Quinn span from fifth place deep into the Paddock Hill gravel – an incident that alone would not have caused the race stoppage – but when Mitchell span at Clearways there was little option but to halt the race, officials almost immediately declaring a result as darkness starting to impinge on the Festival timetable.
Such was the attrition at the top of the order Oliver White climbed back up to fourth at the red flag with Jack Mitchell Jr. – Nunez’s teammate – in fifth, never able to recover from his mistake in the opening laps of his semi-final earlier in the day.
(Photos courtesy of http://www.gazhphotography.co.uk/)