Murray and White Claim Semi Final Wins at Brands

by Connor Jackson

Semi-Final wins for Niall Murray and Oliver White sees the pair on the front-row for the Formula Ford Festival from Brands Hatch. As White’s race involved a safety car due to an opening lap crash, Murray will start from pole.

The opening heat had not been plain sailing for Murray who struggled to pull out a gap in the opening laps, yet recovered in the closing stages to beat Josh Smith and Neil Maclennan after Saturday’s Heat 3 winner Michael Eastwell ran into engine issues while in third. He was not the only major casualty of the Semi’s as Chris Middlehurst retired after contact in the second race.

White had not started at the front for the second Semi-Final, but overtook Matt Cowley at the halfway stage to claim the win, while Peter Dempsey took a surprise podium.

Semi Final 1

Winner: Niall Murray – Van Dieman RF99

Niall Murray would withstand early pressure to take yet another victory at Brands and pole position for the final, after quickly converting his Semi-Final pole to the lead off the line. It had been helped by a poor initial start by Michael Eastwell, who was forced to defend from the quick starting Josh Smith.

Smith and Maclennan would continue to challenge Eastwell, who gradually caught Murray in the early stages. The Kevin Mills Racing driver had played second fiddle to Murray throughout the season, not wanting to once again finish behind the Team DOLAN driver.

With three laps to go though, heartache for Michael Eastwell saw him pull off with engine issues, losing out on a podium position and second row start for the final. Josh Smith had passed him moments before with the Van Dieman JL13 taking a comfortable second place 1.6sec behind Murray as Maclennan rounded out the podium.

Joey Foster continued to charge past the field beating Craig for fourth in the closing laps. The queue for third was concluded by Colin Mullen and Guillaume Archambault, as Ivor McCollough finished eighth.

Semi Final 2

Winner: Oliver White – Medina Sport JL17

Oliver White took a well deserved victory in the second heat, as he survived the opening lap drama to get the better of polesitter Matthew Cowley in the second half of the race.

The start proved to be decisive for a number of the drivers as Keith Donegan was the first to fall. Losing the back-end on the exit of Paddock Hill, he made slight contact with the fast starting White, spinning out. The action continued as a collision between Matt Round-Garrido and Chris Middlehurst ruined both of their races with Middlehurst and Rory Smith retiring from the race.

A safety car was called leaving Matt Cowley to deal with Oliver White and Peter Dempsey who had leaped four places from the start. White was not prepared to hold back, sliding up the inside of Cowley into Paddock Hill bend, taking the inside into Druids, going on to set the fastest lap.

White dominated the final five laps, to put himself in prime position to challenge Murray in the final. Cowley took second from Dempsey, as Luke Williams remained out of trouble to take a low-key fourth place, after being chased by Jonathan Browne.

Donegan would recover to sixth, as Round-Garrido only just qualified for the final in twelfth. Alan Davidson in the Pre-90’s Mondaile M89S and Sebastian Melrose rounded out the top eight.

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