- Petru Florescu scores maiden Ford MSA Formula victory.
- Sennan Fielding returns to the top step of the podium in rain hit second race.
- RSF backed Alex Quinn dominates Rookie Class for Fortec Motorsports.
2 APRIL, 2016 – The opening rounds of the 2016 Ford MSA Formula season at Brands Hatch promised to be spectacular and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
Race one saw pole man Petru Florescu put on a masterful display of driving to claim a dominant lights to flag victory. The Romanian was followed home by team-mates Max Fewtrell and James Pull, securing a 1-2-3 for reigning champions Carlin.
However, the Ford EcoBoost powered series saved its best until last. An exhilarating race two featured a host of overtaking as rain hit the track. There was no shortage of excitement with drivers struggling for grip on the slippery surface and it was JHR Developments driver Sennan Fielding who came out on top in one of the most dramatic races in the history of the championship.
ROUND 1: FLORESCU CLAIMS FIRST FORD MSA FORMULA RACE VICTORY
- Carlin stranglehold at opening race weekend of season continues.
- Petru Florescu leads home team-mates with lights to flag victory.
Petru Florescu converted pole position into an emphatic victory at Brands Hatch in the opening Ford MSA Formula race of the season for Carlin. He led home a 1-2-3 for the team which included Messrs Max Fewtrell and James Pull.
It was an action-packed start to proceedings with Fewtrell’s electrifying getaway seeing him leap past James Pull and get alongside Florescu as they approached Paddock Hill Bend. However, the kart star found himself pinned on the outside of his team-mate and with tyres not up to optimal temperature thought better of trying to make a move stick.
Ultimately, this proved to be the only real challenge to Florescu’s lead. Having fended off Fewtrell the Romanian proceeded to reel off fastest lap after fastest lap. His quickest, a 46.447s, arrived on lap 11 and was not bettered by anyone in the field.
By lap 17 Petru had built a lead of almost three seconds, but it was wiped out with the emergence of the Saftey Car after Ross Martin ran into the barriers at Druids.
With his lead eroded Florescu once again had to escape team-mates Fewtrell and Pull, but this proved no trouble at all. He expertly judged the restart to complete the final lap of the race unperturbed by his Carlin comrades.
Said Florescu: “I had a bad start but I just managed to keep my position and then I put in a number of fast laps which enabled me to pull away. That was key, as was the safety car restart which I managed to do really well. I’m already looking forward to the next race where I plan to do the best I can to come through the field.”
Fast starter Fewtrell added: “The start was perfect and I very nearly had Petru off the line too. The pace of the car was great throughout the race, even as the tyres degraded. To finish second in my first ever Ford MSA Formula race is a fantastic result and something which I’m really proud of.”
Whilst Pull commented: “I made a mistake at the start and that’s where I lost out, but I cannot complain with third and I know where I need to improve for the next race. This 1-2-3 is a great result for Carlin and a decent points haul for me to kick-start my title ambitions.”
One of the most entertaining battles during the race took place in the midfield as Double R’s Zane Goddard was attacked by Carlin’s DeFrancesco. It forced the Australian to push hard and in turn he found himself hustling Alex Quinn who had dropped to seventh on the grid from fifth.
Despite losing two places, seventh was still enough to see Alex Quinn take the first Rookie Class victory of the season for Fortec Motorsports and the Racing Steps Foundation.
Jamun Racing’s Jamie Caroline appeared to be on the ragged edge throughout, pushing his Pirtek Racing liveried racer to the absolute limit in spectacular fashion. It resulted in overtake of the race as he scythed his way up the inside of TRS Arden’s Rafael Martins through Graham Hill Bend to take sixth.
Billy Monger also impressed, first dispatching FKS Champion Ross Martin on lap 10 and then pressuring JHR Developments driver Jack Butel into a mistake on lap 12 leaving him in eleventh place and five places higher than his starting positIon when the chequered flag fell.
ROUND 2: FIELDING BEATS THE RAIN TO WIN AT BRANDS
- Sennan Fielding emerges victorious after one of the most thrilling races in Ford MSA Formula history.
JHR Developments driver Sennan Fielding returned to the top step of the podium in a race that will be remembered as one of the most dramatic in the history of Ford MSA Formula. He kept his cool throughout as the heavens opened during the race, finishing ahead of Jamun’s Jamie Caroline and Carlin’s James Pull.
At the start TRS Arden’s Rafael Martins and Caroline flew off of the second row of the grid to find their way past pole sitter Zane Goddard and Alex Quinn, the latter having a difficult opening lap plummeting down to ninth.
From there the on-track action escalated at a frenetic pace, Carlin’s Devlin DeFrancesco pirouetting gracefully down towards Graham Hill Bend, miraculously missing the oncoming stampede of Ford EcoBoost horsepower on lap two.
Caroline was far from happy to sit in Martins’ wheel tracks and engaged maximum attack mode on the outside of Druids to take the lead. However it was short-lived as he ran wide and took a cross country-route, somehow keeping the car pointing in the right direction to rejoin fifth.
The safety car then made its second appearance of the weekend courtesy of Fortec Motorsports’ Frank Bird beaching his car on the kerb at the exit of Clearways.
As the cars circulated the Kent circuit behind the safety car the light drizzle became more persistent and drivers battled to try to keep temperature in their tyres.
With Bird’s stricken car removed, Rafael Martins mastered the re-start; stealing a march on Fielding and team-mate Luis Leeds. However, the resumption of the race was short-lived with a red flag thrown due to the increasingly treacherous conditions.
It was a timely stoppage for Messrs Caroline and Martins, sparing their blushes as both ventured off the track later that lap.
The field returned to the grid shod with wet tyres ready for a thrilling eight minute finale. Fielding struggled with wheel spin off the line from second while Martins sped away in front.
Caroline and Pull had phenomenal starts which saw them climb their way to second and third in hot pursuit of Martins who they soon battled past.
It was then all eyes on Caroline who put on a defending masterclass to keep the faster Pull behind him, but as the two drivers fought amongst themselves Fielding brought himself into play.
With three laps left Fielding saw his opportunity, diving down the inside at turn one as the drivers went three abreast. It was to be the race winning move as Fielding held out for the remaining laps to take the fourth Ford MSA Formula victory of his career and a five point lead in the championship.
Said Fielding: “It was all about picking up the pieces at the right time. The car felt really good, especially on the slicks. When I pulled the race winning move, I remember thinking maybe I shouldn’t be attempting this, but it was worth it and I managed to pull it off. I’m now really excited to follow-up with another great result tomorrow.”
Caroline added: “It was tricky out there and it was my first time in the wet so it was thrilling stuff. I ended up going back to basics, trusting my instinct and feel for the car. It really was a fantastic race.”
The opening Ford MSA Formula race weekend concludes with one final race at 14:55 tomorrow which will be broadcast live on ITV4. After today’s action it’s certainly one that nobody will want to miss.
Ford MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by EcoBoost
Provisional results Round 1 Brands Hatch Indy 2 April 2016
22 laps / 26.57 miles
1 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 19m 49.681s / 80.41mph
2 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin +0.489s
3 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +0.793s
4 Luis LEEDS / AUS / TRS Arden +1.392s
5 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +1.846s
6 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Jamun +2.424s
7 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / TRS Arden +2.684s
8 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec +3.118s
9 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R +3.390s
10 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin +4.024s etc
Fastest lap Florescu 46.447s / 93.62mph
Rookie class 1 Quinn, 2 Nicolai KJAERGAARD / DEN / Fortec; 3 Jack MARTIN / GBR / TRS Arden
Round 2: 9 laps / 10.87 miles
1 FIELDING 8m 25.523s / 77.41mph
2 CAROLINE +0.566s
3 PULL +2.625s
4 GODDARD +3.762s
5 MARTINS +4.169s
6 FEWTRELL +4.389s
7 QUINN +4.573s
8 Billy MONGER / GBR / JHR +4.981s
9 LEEDS +5.194s
10 KJAERGAARD +5.480s etc
Fastest lap Fielding 54.290s / 80.09mph
Rookie class 1 Quinn, 2 Kjaergaard, 3 Ross MARTIN / GBR / Fortec, 4 Jack Martin
Provisional championship standings
1 Fielding 35 points; 2 Pull 30; 3= Fewtrell & Caroline 26; 5 Petru Florescu 25; 6 Martins 16; 7= Leeds & Goddard 14; 9 Quinn 10; 10 Monger 4 etc.
Rookie class 1 Quinn 50; 2 Kjaergaard 36; 3 Jack Martin 27; 4 Ross Martin 15.