Home Formula FordFFord Festival Cooper cruises to victory in Last Chance Race to reach Festival final

Cooper cruises to victory in Last Chance Race to reach Festival final

by Craig Woollard

Photo: Ida Wood

Luke Cooper secured 25th on the grid for the Formula Ford Festival final by winning the Last Chance Race, while last corner contact allowed Matt Rivett to progress too.

Several cars withdrew ahead of the race, including Rick Morris, allowing reigning Festival winner Rory Smith in at 29th on the grid, which became 28th after Andrew Blair pulled off on the formation lap at Surtees.

Cooper got the jump at the start while Team Dolan’s Ben Cochran, first on the grid, made contact with Springbridge Motorsport’s Tom Hawkins at Paddock Hill Bend after a dreadful start.

This brought out the safety car, making B-M Racing’s Smith’s difficult job seemingly impossible in the eight-lap race as he was only 25th at that time. The safety car went very slowly, in an attempt to get as many racing laps in as possible.

Racing resumed on lap four, and Souley Motorsport’s Chris Acton went off from seventh. There was a lap given to attempt to get him out of the gravel under local yellow flags, but it was not possible, and the safety car was brought out once again.

The racing resumed with just one lap remaining, and Cooper was able to control the race from the front and take the victory ahead of Darwin Smith in his Van Diemen RF90.

Graham Brunton Racing’s ex-touring car ace Derek Palmer Jr was third ahead of Don Hardman Racing’s Abdul Ahmed. PWR1 Racing’s Jeremy Fairbairn rounded out the top five.

Sixth went the way of Historic final winner Rivett, but only after late drama as Brandon McCaughan and Lucas Romanek crashed at Clearways on the final lap while they were battling over sixth.

Rather than risk a crash and damaging the car ahead of next week’s Walter Hayes Trophy, Smith pulled out of the race late-on and into retirement after working his way towards the top 20.

Narrowly missing out on a spot in a final were PA Motorsport’s Chris Goodwin, GBR’s Michael Gray, Oldfield Motorsport’s Noel Robinson and Ryan Campbell, as they rounded out the top 10.

Race results (8 laps)

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Luke Cooper Swift Cooper 12m00.060s
2 Darwin Smith +0.779s
3 Derek Palmer Jr Graham Brunton Racing +1.428s
4 Abdul Ahmed Don Hardman Racing +1.557s
5 Jeremy Fairbairn PWR1 Racing +1.827s
6 Matt Rivett +2.980s
7 Chris Goodwin PA Motorsport +3.854s
8 Michael Gray Graham Brunton Racing +3.918s
9 Noel Robinson Oldfield Motorsport +4.378s
10 Ryan Campbell +5.041s
11 Jack Kemp +5.771s
12 Richard Higgins Riadro Motorsport +6.020s
13 James Hagan +6.591s
14 David Parks Vertical Racing +7.036s
15 Lewis Fox Team Fox Racing +7.781s
16 Robbie Allen LOH Motorsport +8.268s
17 Drew Stewart SC Motorsport +11.281s
18 Marc Sawer MDS Motorsport +13.437s
19 Leanne McShane Souley Motorsport +13.776s
20 Philip Harris Harris Racing +13.928s
21 Sam Street Swift Cooper +14.061s
22 Chris Knox Enigma Motorsport +14.071s
23 Brandon McCaughan Hugh Ried Racing +1 lap
24 Lucas Romanek Oldfield Motorsport +1 lap
Ret Adam Fathers AF Racing
Ret Rory Smith B-M Racing
Ret Chris Acton Souley Motorsport
Ret Ben Cochran Team Dolan
Ret Tom Hawkins Springbridge Motorsport
DNS Andrew Blair
Fastest lap: McCaughan, 53.348s