Home Formula FordNational FF1600 Romanek, Middlehurst and Budzinski share National FF1600 spoils at Donington Park

Romanek, Middlehurst and Budzinski share National FF1600 spoils at Donington Park

by Steve Whitfield

Photo: Ammonite Motorsport

Ten cars contested the latest BRSCC National Formula Ford 1600 round at Donington Park but there was plenty of action, with three close races each producing different winners.

Team Dolan’s Chris Middlehurst qualified on pole for race one and led the first couple of laps from Oldfield Motorsport duo Lucas Romanek and Brandon McCaughan. Romanek dived inside Middlehurst at Macleans bend on lap three, and completed his move for the lead into Coppice.

Middlehurst then immediately came under pressure from the chasing pack, which was led by McCaughan, which allowed Romanek to build a one-second gap.

McCaughan drove around the outside of Middlehurst at Macleans into second on lap four. After two laps trying to regain the position, Middlehurst eventually passed McCaughan on the inside at Melbourne hairpin. Romanek had slightly extended his lead to 1.3s, but Middlehurst posted the fastest lap to reduce the deficit by 0.6s. 

With McCaughan in-tow, Middlehurst caught Romanek as the cars started the final lap, and Middlehurst made the better exit from Old Hairpin to draw alongside.  McCaughan moved to the left of the pair to make it three-wide approaching Macleans before snatching second back from Middlehurst.

The trio went side-by-side again under braking for the hairpin, with Romanek holding on to win by 0.6s. McCaughan initially retained second only to be demoted to eighth by a five-second track limits penalty.

Having edged B-M Racing’s returning Jamie Sharp to the line by 0.017s, Middlehurst was promoted to second, with Ammonite Motorsport’s Elliott Budzinski a further 0.3s behind in fourth.

In race two, Middlehurst prevailed in a three-wide scrap with Romanek and Sharp to grab the lead exiting Coppice on lap two, with Romanek also losing out to Sharp at the hairpin.

Budzinski swept past Dolan’s Jordan Kelly at the Fogarty Esses into fourth, while McCaughan gained two spots to sixth, and the trio soon joined the lead battle. But the six-car train became five when Kelly went through the gravel at Macleans following contact with McCaughan.

Romanek tried to pass Sharp for second into Fogarty on the penultimate lap, but ended up off the road and lost out to both Budzinski and McCaughan, who spun into retirement after making a lunge on Budzinski into Old Hairpin for the final time. Middlehurst held off Sharp for the win, with Budzinski third ahead of Romanek and Kelly.

The top seven places were reversed for the final race, with Ammonite’s Nolan Allaer starting from the front. Kelly climbed from third to take the lead from Allaer at Macleans on lap two. Sharp and Budzinski also made early progress before going wheel-to-wheel for second through the Craners Curves. Sharp then slowed with an issue, and moment later Romanek retired, causing a safety car period.

Racing resumed with two laps to go, with McCaughan immediately retiring at the restart by clattering into the back of Allaer and damaging his suspension. Kelly defended from Budzinski for most of the lap, before the lead changed hands at the final corner. Budzinski then held off Kelly on the final lap for this maiden victory, with Middlehurst edging Allaer for third.

2015 National FF1600 champion Jonny McMullan made a return with B-M at the wheel of a new Medina Sport BH2023, finishing seventh, sixth and fifth across the three races.

Results round-up
Race 1 (9 laps)
1 Lucas Romanek OIdfield Motorsport
2 Chris Middlehurst Team Dolan +1.189s
3 Jamie Sharp B-M Racing +1.206s
4 Elliott Budzinski Ammonite Motorsport +1.540s
5 Jordan Kelly Team Dolan +3.668s
6 Nolan Allaer Ammonite Motorsport +4.481s
7 Jonny McMullan B-M Racing +5.021s
8 Brandon McCaughan Oldfield Motorsport +5.677s
9 Donal Downey +14.362s
Ret Brindley Kinch Ammonite Motorsport
Fastest lap: Middlehurst, 1m39.501s

Race 2 (9 laps)
1 Middlehurst
2 Sharp +0.739s
3 Budzinski +1.379s
4 Romanek +2.843s
5 Kelly +4.615s
6 McMullan +9.636s
7 Allaer +10.873s
8 Downey +21.957s
9 Kinch +45.723s
Ret McCaughan
FL: Kelly, 1m40.022s

Race 3 (8 laps)
1 Budzinski
2 Kelly +0.348s
3 Middlehurst +1.527s
4 Allaer +1.788s
5 McMullan +1.936s
6 Kinch +2.419s
7 Downey +3.754s
Ret McCaughan
Ret Sharp
Ret Romanek
FL: Kelly, 1m40.473s

Championship standings
1 Romanek 201   2 Budzinski 179    3 Middlehurst 173    4 Kelly 141   5 McCaughan 139   6 Allaer 134   7 Morgan Quinn 88 8 Kinch 72   9 Tom Nippers 51   10 Charlie Mann 50