Jayde Kruger has retaken the lead of a seesaw title struggle by claiming victory in the penultimate round of the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain at Brands Hatch. The South African made it 13 victories in the season after banging wheels with his title rival Harrison Scott (Falcon Motorsport) at Druids on the second lap. A mistake from the pole sitting JTR Motorsport driver left an opening for the championship leader but a firmly closed door sent the younger driver into retirement.
While Kruger led the opening lap from pole until a slip up at Clearways, Harrison Scott rocketed from fourth to second by the time the field hove back into view from the Grand Prix layout. Scott then went for the lead of the race, drag racing down the front straight and into Paddock Hill Bend. Kruger held out for the first corner but was attacked again into Druids where the two collided.
The move, one of many racing incidents in a close fought season, was judged by the stewards of the meeting to have been out of line. Kruger was penalised for causing an avoidable incident, only for the penalty to be withdrawn when JTR appealed the decision.
With Scott out of the race and Kruger’s Mygale undamaged it was a clear run to victory #13 on wet weather tyres. The choice of treaded Dunlops played a major part in Max Marshall’s amazing streak through the field on the opening tour. The second JTR machine, recovering from accident damage and a retirement in round 28, went from tenth on the grid to third by the end of the first lap. When Scott came to grief at Druids, third became a JTR 1-2 which endured until the end of the race.
Still there was nothing that Marshall could do about Kruger’s pace and the pair were split by over 17 seconds. Marshall praised JTR team boss and factory Porsche driver Nick Tandy for an inspired tyre choice saying, “We initially called slicks and just pre-race we changed to wet tyres. All credit to Nick, it was the best possible decision.”
He added that having Nick Tandy’s experience in the team makes the difference in such a hotly contested series.
With first and second decided and well split on the track, it fell to the fight for the final podium spot to make the entertainment for a strong Brands Hatch crowd. Scott’s Falcon team mate Ricky Collard initially held on to third but was hobbled by the slick Dunlops the team had fitted to his Mygale-Swindon. Another lightning fast start saw the wet shod JTR or Clay Mitchell rise from the back of the grid to fourth place to harass Collard into a mistake.
Collard stood up to the pressure until lap five when Mitchell slipped past at Druids. Four laps later the youngster erred at Clearways, yielding a JTR podium lockout to MBM Motorsport’s Michael O’Brien. Yet another lap later it was O’Brien’s turn to yield, this time to his own team mate Ashley Sutton, who drove from the back of the grid to the podium on slick tyres in a display of fantastic slippery conditions car control.
The Scholarship class champion said that the race had come to him after starting on the slower of the two tyre options. “We had nothing to lose from where we started so slicks were the obvious choice. We knew that towards the end things would come our way.” Along the way Sutton netted the fastest lap, bettering Kruger on the last tour.
O’Brien followed his team mate across the line for fourth with Collard in hot pursuit. Mitchell took sixth place ahead of the Radical Motorsport pair of Juan Rosso and James Abbott. The duo started on slicks and struggled throughout the race, though they still managed to better Jack Barlow in the third MBM car.
An opening lap spin for Louise Richardson left the fastest of the Richardson Racing cars in last place. A tenth place ahead of Chris Mealin for Falcon and SWB Motorsport’s Greg Holloway was the reward for a determined recovery drive. Mealin’s finishing spot was just enough to secure him third place in the scholarship class.
The big talking point of the race though was the clash between title contenders. Kruger and Scott both gave their opinions on the incident. Kruger said, “Harrison got a better run than me through Clearways and I defended into Paddock. At Druids he tried to cut left and then right, and then I think he hit the kerb and that pushed him into me. He fired it in and drove over my front wheel.”
Scott disagreed saying, “Jayde went wide and I got a good run on him down the straight. Straight away he was trying to block me whichever way I went. I managed to get a better exit out of Paddock Hill Bend; he was blocking me again but ran wide on the approach to Druids and left a massive gap, so I went up the inside and then, half way through the corner, I felt a big whack on my rear wheel. It looks like to me that he’s just turned in on me.”