Home Formula FordFFord Festival Jamie Sharp and Tom Mills take poles for first two FFord Festival heats

Jamie Sharp and Tom Mills take poles for first two FFord Festival heats

by Steve Whitfield

Photo: Ida Wood

Jamie Sharp and Tom Mills took pole for Formula Ford Festival heats one and two respectively on a wet Brands Hatch Indy.

B-M Racing’s Sharp was half a second clear of reigning National FF1600 champion Chris Middlehurst in the first qualifying session, while Festival debutant Mills pipped recently-crowned British GT champion Denis Lind to top spot in Q2.

Heat One

A rain shower before the start made the track greasy, and Richard Earl was the first driver to be caught out by the conditions by sliding his Van Diemen RF88 into the pitwall.

2019 Festival winner Jonathan Browne led the way on his FF1600 return during the early running, just 0.005 seconds clear of Sharp’s Medina Sport JL17.

The session was briefly halted at the halfway mark following a spin for Simon Pruce’s Reynard FF89 at Clearways.

Sharp found half a second to go fastest at the resumption, and then improved further to end Q1 on top, with Middlehurst taking second for Team Dolan over 0.5s behind.

Browne made a late improvement to end up third in his Cliff Dempsey-run car, ahead of two-time Castle Combe FF1600 champion Luke Cooper, who took fourth with his final lap.

Team USA scholar Andre Castro moved up the order late on to claim fifth for Low Dempsey Racing, less than 0.1s behind Cooper.

Robert Barrable set the sixth fastest lap in a Van Diemen RF08 ahead of privateer Andrew Blair in a Reynard 87FF.

Logan Hannah sat fifth on the timesheet for Graham Brunton Racing before the red flag, but slipped back to eighth by the end of Q1.

Ian Gough took ninth despite a spin at Paddock Hill Bend, ahead of KMR’s Megan Gilkes.

Heat Two

Conditions slightly improved for Q2, and it was 2010 Festival winner Lind that impressed by leading the way for LDR. Fellow British GT racer and FF1600 returnee Matt Cowley soon displaced Lind at the top for Dolan, with two-time Festival winner Joey Foster moving into second in his Don Hardman Racing-run Firman.

Lind reclaimed top spot before a mighty lap from Mills put him ahead by 0.6s. Lind closed to within 0.2s of the KMR driver, but an off at Graham Hill Bend on his final effort prevented him from improving further.

Foster was a further 0.2s adrift in third, with Cowley fourth. 

Jack Wolfenden was a second off the pace in fifth for Souley Motorsport, with Noel Robinson sixth in a Van Diemen.

The battle in the more historic machinery proved just as close, with former Formula 1 and IndyCar driver Roberto Moreno immediately in the mix with Matt Rivett’s Van Diemen RF91 and Darwin Smith’s 1990 equivalent.

Brandon McCaughan put in a lat effort to snatch seventh in a Mondiale 89S, ahead of Smith.

GBR’s Derek Palmer Jr was ninth, ahead of Rivett, and Moreno ended up 11th on his FF1600 return after 41 years.

Qualifying round-up
Heat 1 grid
1 Jamie Sharp B-M Racing 1m02.133s
2 Chris Middlehurst Team Dolan +0.569s
3 Jonathan Browne Vamos Racing +0.611s
4 Luke Cooper Swift Cooper +1.248s
5 Andre Castro Low Dempsey Racing +1.575s
6 Robert Barrable Motorsport Car Preparations +1.666s
7 Andrew Blair privateer +1.890s
8 Logan Hannah Graham Brunton Racing +2.193s
9 Ian Gough Oldfield Motorsport +2.387s
10 Nick Gilkes Kevin Mills Racing +2.394s

Heat 2 grid
1 Thomas Mills Kevin Mills Racing 1m01.589s
2 Dennis Lind Low Dempsey Racing +0.200s
3 Joey Foster Don Hardman Racing +0.410s
4 Matt Cowley Team Dolan +0.982s
5 Jack Wolfenden Souley Motorsport +1.049s
6 Noel Robinson Oldfield Motorsport +1.748s
7 Brandon McCaughan Hugh Ried Racing +2.039s
8 Darwin Smith privateer +2.141s
9 Derek Palmer Jr Graham Brunton Racing +2.164s
10 Matt Rivett privateer +2.340s