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Esterson declared Formula Ford Festival winner after rain deluge

by Steve Whitfield

Photo: Ida Wood

Ammonite Motorsport’s Max Esterson is the winner of the 2022 Formula Ford Festival in a grand final result declared after only two laps at Brands Hatch

The race started on a dry circuit but dark rain clouds loomed ominously overhead. GB3 racer Esterson made a great launch from pole, as Don Hardman Racing’s Joey Foster took second away from Michael Eastwell, with Chris Middlehurst slotting into fourth.

Kevin Mills Racing’s Eastwell and Team Dolan’s Middlehurst ran wide at Graham Hill bend and lost ground, allowing Eastwell’s team-mate Jordan Dempsey to move into third, with Foster right on the tail of Esterson for the lead at the end of lap one.

Dempsey lapped one-second faster on the next tour to close in on the lead duo before chaos ensued. Eastwell tangled with Team USA scholar Thomas Schrage and ended up in the gravel at Druids, and he was joined by Vertical Racing’s Robbie Parks who also spun off in a separate incident.

Torrential rain then hit, with the safety car deployed. As the cars started to bunch up on the pit straight, Schrage cannoned into the rear of David McCullough, who was fired into the pitwall. The red flags were then shown, with all cars eventually returning to the pitlane to await a restart.

But with fading light and standing water on the track, officials declared a result, much to the delight of Esterson, who went one place better than his result in last year’s final. It also means the American has now won both showpiece FFord events, having won the 2021 Walter Hayes Trophy.

Foster narrowly missed out on a fourth Festival triumph in second, with Dempsey third. Despite the result being put back by one lap, Eastwell was not classified, handing fourth to Schrage and fifth to Oldfield Motorsport’s Brandon McCaughan.

Middlehurst was sixth ahead of Team Dolan’s Niall Murray, who started the final from 11th. McCullough was also not classified, with Oldfield’s Lucas Romanek, KMR’s Jeremy Fairbairn and Team Dolan’s Morgan Quinn completing the top 10.

Jamie Sharp was disqualified post-race for accelerating down a busy pitlane after the race was stopped.

Race result (2 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Max Esterson Ammonite Motorsport 1m50.313s
2 Joey Foster Don Hardman Racing +0.318s
3 Jordan Dempsey Kevin Mills Racing +0.555s
4 Thomas Schrage Ammonite Motorsport +2.541s
5 Brandon McCaughan Oldfield Motorsport +3.954s
6 Chris Middlehurst Team Dolan +3.997s
7 Niall Murray Team Dolan +4.813s
8 Lucas Romanek Oldfield Motorsport +5.047s
9 Jeremy Fairbairn Kevin Mills Racing +5.361s
10 Morgan Quinn Team Dolan +5.683s
11 Kevin Foster Graham Brunton Racing +6.065s
12 Cadu Bonini Kevin Mills Racing +6.443s
13 Wallace Martins Swift Cooper +7.580s
14 Ivor McCullough Team DDR +7.655s
15 William Ferguson Ammonite Motorsport +7.802s
16 Rory Smith B-M Racing +8.024s
17 Tom McArthur B-M Racing +8.533s
18 Christer Otterstrom isiRacing +8.726s
19 Ben Cox Souley Motorsport +8.944s
20 James Penrose Border Reivers +9.333s
21 Tom Nippers +9.462s
22 Pascal Monbaron John’s Racing Team +9.685s
23 Ben Miloudi +10.530s
24 Megan Gilkes B-M Racing +10.671s
25 Cameron Jackson Neil Fowler Motorsport +11.004s
26 Alan Davidson +21.673s
NC Michael Eastwell Kevin Mills Racing +2.068s
NC David McCullough Team DDR +4.881s
NC Robbie Parks Vertical Racing +5.812s
DSQ Jamie Sharp B-M Racing
Fastest lap: Dempsey, 51.513s