Ross Martin convincingly won the final Formula Ford Festival heat race at Brands Hatch Indy, securing himself pole for Sunday’s first semi-final with the fastest total race time.
The Team Dolan driver and 2019 BRSCC National FF1600 champion made a strong start from pole to lead the field into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time, holding steady in the lead despite a brief challenge from B-M Racing’s fast-starting Jamie Sharp in the opening couple of tours.
Martin though soon got into his stride, at time lapping over a second per lap faster than anyone else as he built up a lead of over three seconds by mid-distance, though Sharp was able to eventually match the leader again.
The gap between the leading duo would yo-yo across the final third of the contest as they encountered traffic at different parts of the sub-minute lap, Martin keeping Sharp around three seconds back.
Martin’s eventual winning margin was 3.515s, and his race time enough to bag him pole for his semi-final run on Sunday by just under half-a-second ahead of Rory Smith’s first heat effort.
Low Dempsey Racing’s Maxwell Esterson managed to hold off Enigma Motorsport-run Jack Wolfenden for third after coming under heavy attack in the closing laps.
Esterson looked to have lost third as Team Dolan’s Morgan Quinn slotted ahead at Paddock with just a few laps remaining, though the positions quickly switched once again after Quinn got held up by a backmarker exiting Druids.
His rostrum charge took a further dent after running wide at Graham Hill Bend just seconds later, eventually crossing the line in fifth.
Reigning National FF1600 champion Neil Maclennen had a race to forget after struggling for pace, running just outside the top five after struggling in qualifying.
He then ran wide at Paddock on the third tour, dropping back to tenth as a result and was forced to fight back through to not only salvage his race but to hold on to any chance of bagging a strong result on Sunday.
Sixth was a decent recovery in the end ahead of B-M’s Tom McArthur, while Italian F4 driver Gabriel Bortoleto’s Prema engineer Goofy Pirro – son of sportscar racing legend Emanuele – was eighth on his debut with Oldfield Motorsport.
Maclenna’s KMR team-mate Reece Lycett came home ninth, while Graham Brunton Racing’s Logan Hannah recovered from an early spin to complete the top 10.
Race results (15 laps)
|1||Ross Martin||Team Dolan||15m39.918s|
|2||Jamie Sharp||B-M Racing||+3.515s|
|3||Maxwell Esterson||Low Dempsey Racing||+5.568s|
|4||Jack Wolfenden||Enigma Motorsport||+5.740s|
|5||Morgan Quinn||Team Dolan||+9.514s|
|6||Neil Maclennan||Kevin Mills Racing||+28.056s|
|7||Tom McArthur||B-M Racing||+28.214s|
|8||Goofy Pirro||Oldfield Motorsport||+28.867s|
|9||Reece Lycett||Kevin Mills Racing||+30.229s|
|10||Logan Hannah||Graham Brunton Racing||+31.752s|
|12||Stuart Kestenbaum||Don Hardman Racing||+1 lap|
|13||Leanne McShane||Souley Motorsport||+1 lap|
|14||Laurie Hughes||+1 lap|
|15||Matthew Hayes||+1 lap|
|16||Marc Sawer||MDS Motorsport||+1 lap|
|17||Don Boyack||+2 laps|
|Fastest lap: Martin, 1m01.696s|