The 47th Formula Ford Festival proved to be a thriller with Josh Smith taking the flag at Brands Hatch by under a tenth from multiple Festival champion Niall Murray.
Smith had launched away strongly in both aborted races, challenging Murray. Podium finisher Oliver White pulled Murray out wide in the final lap, allowing Smith to take the lead and the Road to Indy Shootout Invitation.
After a clean first lap, an early red flag was called as Carter Williams was spun on Paddock Hill bend. He stalled in the middle of the track on the run up to Druids, as Gary Sykes collected the #150 who had been running seventh. With Williams unable to get going and Murray coming back round for a third lap, the race was halted.
The nineteen lap restart was met with further incidents as Jake Craig was involved in further contact, this time hitting Joey Foster and triggering a safety car. A second red flag was announced to deal with Max Mazeratti, who had crashed on the pit straight.
Race was suspended as the medical team attended to Mazerati.
It would be third time lucky for the leaders, with Murray leading away an eight lap sprint, despite initially stalling on the green flag lap. Smith made another typically lightning start, taking the lead on the opening lap, only for the multiple champion to retake the position a lap later.
White joined the pair in the closing lap, diving around the outside of both into Paddock Hill and forcing Murray to defend into Druids. This left Smith with a clear opportunity to dive back up the inside taking the lead on the run down into Graham Hill.
Murray would pull out alongside on the final straight, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Smith from claiming his first-ever Festival title. Murray and White completed the podium.
With Peter Dempsey running into car issues in fourth, the top three had broken away leaving Matthew Cowley to hold off a five car train. It will be a disappointment for the Van Diemen driver who had skipped the US F4 round from COTA to attend this race.
Fifth and sixth was populated by 2017 podium finishers Neil Maclennan and Keith Donegan, who recovered after his Semi-Final spin. Canadian Scholarship driver Guillaume Archambault beat the Team USA driver Colin Mullen to seventh as Matt Round-Garrido took the John Nichol Trophy ahead of David McCollough.
Only 20 cars finished the race.
Smith wasn’t the only champion though, with the Masters and Historic Races also taking place on Sunday.
Noel Robinson took the honours in the Masters Race, eventually crossing the line in the lead by over two and half seconds in his Van Diemen JL012K.
Early race leader Henry Chart had retired after contact with the challenging Tom McArthur. Sadly for the Pre-90’s runner, he couldn’t hold on with Robinson sliding into the lead on lap 9. Meanwhile, Ivor McCollough recovered to finish third after starting from the back. Top five was rounded out by Sam Street and Stuart Kestenbaum, once again the top Pre-72 class finisher.
In the Historic Final; Alan Davidson held on for a dramatic win in the Mondiale M89 S. He had taken lead off the line, but would soon find himself under great pressure from T. McArthur.
The pair remained almost side-by-side in the final two laps and despite a lung in the final corner, Davdison hung on with polesitter Conor Murphy completing the podium. Ryan Campbell was fourth with Jordan Henderson the highest placed Pre-82 runner in fifth. Kestenbaum would be ninth in his Pre-72 class Crossle 16F.