Neil Maclennan came back from a poor heat race and then a weak restart to dominate the second Formula Ford Festival semi-final.
Lacklustre pace in his heat left BRSCC National FF1600 champion Maclennan eighth on the semi-final grid, and while he made a slow start off the line he benefited from drivers ahead being slowed by stalled Team Dolan drivers Matt Cowley and Chris Middlehurst.
By the exit of Paddock Hill Bend five places had already been gained by Maclennan, and he passed B-M Racing’s Jamie Sharp for second at Druids on lap two of 15.
Sharp’s team-mate Rory Smith, who started from pole after winning his heat, didn’t get a chance to pull away as Maclennan’s Kevin Mills Racing team-mate Horatio Fitz-Simon had several offs on lap one before crashing at Druids on lap two and causing a safety car interruption.
Smith left Maclennan hanging on the restart, but it only took until Druids for him to close back in on. A stronger exit out of Graham Hill Bend left Maclennan loose into Clearways rather than moving for the lead, but it was only a matter of time as Maclennan went around the outside of Paddock Hill on the next lap for first place.
From there he pulled away from Smith, opening up a 4.803s lead in the second half of the race to put himself on the front row alongside defending Festival winner Jonathan Browne for the final.
Sharp threw away third place by putting a wheel on the grass at Graham Hill and going off track, promoting Jack Wolfenden to the podium in his Firman RFR17 – being run by Enigma Motorsport this weekend.
Despite dropping to the very back of the field, Middlehurst charged back up to fourth, ahead of team-mate Cowley and Luke Cooper.
Sharp recovered to seventh by passing team-mate Tom Ward on the last lap, while the battling Logan Hannah (Graham Brunton Racing) and Super Classic class winner Peter Daly finished eighth and ninth after passing Oldfield Motorsport’s Milan De Laet.
Goofy Pirro, De Laet’s team-mate, had his race end on lap one after collecting the spinning Tom Hawkins at Clearways.
John Svensson started last but is through to the final after finishing 12th.
Race results (15 laps)
|1||Neil Maclennan||Kevin Mills Racing||16m54.785s|
|2||Rory Smith||B-M Racing||+4.803s|
|3||Jack Wolfenden||Enigma Motorsport||+5.944s|
|4||Chris Middlehurst||Team Dolan||+6.929s|
|5||Matt Cowley||Team Dolan||+12.543s|
|6||Luke Cooper||Swift Cooper||+13.152s|
|7||Jamie Sharp||B-M Racing||+16.375s|
|8||Tom Ward||B-M Racing||+17.126s|
|9||Logan Hannah||Graham Brunton Racing||+21.885s|
|11||Milan De Laet||Oldfield Motorsport||+23.883s|
|12||John Svensson||John’s Racing Team||+29.159s|
|15||Stuart Kestenbaum||Don Hardman Racing||+55.500s|
|16||James Hagan||+1 lap|
|17||Marc Sawer||MDS Motorsport||+1 lap|
|18||Simon Pruce||Minitron Racing||+1 lap|
|19||John Whitbourn||+1 lap|
|20||Bob Hawkins||Springbridge Motorsport||+1 lap|
|21||Laurie Hughes||+1 lap|
|22||Philip Attwood||+1 lap|
|Ret||Horatio Fitz-Simon||Kevin Mills Racing|
|Ret||Tom Hawkins||Springbridge Motorsport|
|Ret||Goofy Pirro||Oldfield Motorsport|
|Fastest lap: Maclennan, 56.651s|