Home Formula FordNational FF1600 Walker triumphs after frenetic National FF1600 battle at Brands Hatch

Walker triumphs after frenetic National FF1600 battle at Brands Hatch

by Steve Whitfield

Photo: Jim Moir

Alex Walker took victory in a thrilling opening BRSCC National Formula Ford 1600 race on the Brands Hatch Indy layout that featured a nine-car lead battle.

The Kevin Mills Racing driver passed title rival Max Esterson in the second half of the race before pulling clear to win by 3.4 seconds.

Low Dempsey Racing’s Esterson held off the returning Rory Smith (B-M Racing) and Chris Middlehurst (Team Dolan) to take second.

Esterson drew alongside poleman Smith off the line, and took the lead on the outside of Paddock Hill Bend.

The front three of Esterston, Smith and Chris Middlehurst were nose-to-tail at the end of the first lap, but a crash at Druids brought out the safety car.

Dolan’s Ben Cochran spun to a halt and was collected by Oldfield Motorsport’s Carter Williams, who was launched into a roll before landing back on all four wheels. Williams appeared uninjured after climbing from his stricken car.

Middlehurst tried to take second from Smith when racing resumed, but then lost out to Walker at Clearways, with the top nine drivers separated by just 1.7 seconds.

Smith lost second at Graham Hill Bend to Walker after running wide, but regained the place at the same corner next time by. Walker briefly dropped behind Middlehurst, before reclaiming third and resuming his battle with Smith.

The pair banged wheels exiting Druids, with Walker moving into second behind Esterson

The lead changed at Paddock Hill Bend with six minutes remaining, with Walker passing points leader Esterston and then pulling clear.

Esterson was left to fend off Smith and Middlehurst in the closing stages, the trio having edged clear of the next train of cars.

Thomas Mills (KMR) and Colin Queen (LDR) moved up into fifth and sixth late on after Don Hardman Racing’s Joey Foster had to avoid a lapped car exiting Paddock Hill.

Foster came home in seventh, less than a second clear of KMR’s Megan Gilkes. Jamie Sharp finished in a distant ninth for B-M after spinning out of fifth at Clearways during the race.

Race results (20 laps)

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Alex Walker Kevin Mills Racing 20m10.213s
2 Max Esterson Low Dempsey Racing +3.394s
3 Rory Smith B-M Racing +3.558s
4 Chris Middlehurst Team Dolan +3.705s
5 Thomas Mills Kevin Mills Racing +5.253s
6 Colin Queen Low Dempsey Racing +6.218s
7 Joey Foster Don Hardman Racing +6.422s
8 Megan Gilkes Kevin Mills Racing +7.140s
9 Jamie Sharp B-M Racing +11.398s
10 Ben Tinkler +17.636s
11 Benjamin Cochran Team Dolan +18.296s
12 James Tucker Tucker Motorsport +24.165s
13 Paul Tucker Tucker Motorsport +51.182s
Ret Terry Walkingshaw
Ret Noel Robinson
Ret Lucas Romanek Oldfield Motorsport
Ret Andre Lafond Low Dempsey Racing
Ret Carter Williams Oldfield Motorsport
Fastest lap: Walker, 50.634s

Championship standings
1 Esterson 319   2 Walker 288   3 Middlehurst 270   4 Sharp 236   5 Smith 175   6 Romanek 150   7 Queen 144   8 Mills 141   9 Williams 125   10 Gilkes 118 Foster 109