FIESTA CHAMPIONS CROWNED AT BRANDS HATCH FINALE

It was a superb end to the Fiesta Championship season at Brands Hatch last weekend (20th – 21st October), as we crowned our 2018 champions.

Running as part of the renowned BRSCC Formula Ford Festival, the season finale is always something of a spectacle. In unexpectedly warm conditions, the Kent-based circuit basked in glorious sunshine, as our drivers enjoyed a thrilling end to the season. With Class A, C, D and the overall title to be decided there was a great deal to play for.

Samuel Watkins was the man to beat from the off, as he added another Class C and overall pole position to his name. John Cooper headed the Class D grid, whilst Mark Court topped the Class A qualifying times once again.

With 21 laps of the Brands Hatch Indy circuit completed, Watkins steered to an uninterrupted race one victory, less than two seconds ahead of second placed man Danny Harrison. Ryan Faulconbridge completed the top three, whilst Joshua Watkins claimed fourth place. The returning Nick Sanderson enjoyed his comeback to steal fifth, whilst Tom Hutchins rounded out the top six.

John Cooper’s dominance continued in Class D, as he navigated his way from pole to victory, despite immense pressure from Fiesta newcomer, Alastair Kellett. Impressing on his debut, Kellett finished second in class, ahead of championship protagonist, Jamie White.

Mark Court’s efforts secured him another Class  A success, ahead of Colin Newbold.

As day two came around, tensions rose as the title race neared an end. Heading the field once again in race two, Samuel Watkins’ front row start gave him the best opportunity to lead the way.

As 25 cars thundered into Paddock Hill Bend on lap one, we were set for an electrifying battle, and our drivers didn’t disappoint. Sadly Danny Harrison fell foul of opening lap drama, retiring before completing the first tour.

Back on track, all was going well until returnee, Nick Sanderson, endured a heavy impact with the infamous Paddock Hill gravel trap, leaving him out of the running after just 10 laps. Safely tucked away beside the barrier, Sanderson was forced to watch from the sidelines as the action continued.

As the chequered flag came into sight, it was Ryan Faulconbridge who stole the show this time around, to claim an overall and Class C triumph, ahead of Samuel and Joshua Watkins. Hutchins progressed to fourth place this time around, ahead of David Nye and Jamie Going.

Jamie White managed to get the better of Cooper this time around, to score another Class D achievement. An extra point for fastest lap also worked wonders towards his title campaign. Kellett and Cooper completed the Class D top three. Zachary Lucas and Luke Bannister finished fourth and fifth in class, respectively, with Marco Ricci and Tim Bennett one lap adrift.

Class A saw no finishers as Newbold’s gearbox overheated with just a handful of laps to go putting him out of the race, while Court finished but was subsequently disqualified from the final result due to a flag signal infringement.

With just one more race to go, the 2018 Fiesta Championship was swiftly coming to a close. Difficult circumstances befell Simon Horrobin, who was disqualified from the full meeting, meaning he was unable to start the final race.

As the final outing of the season began, it was Samuel Watkins who led the way once again. Starting from the back of the Class C grid, Danny Harrison was the man to watch from the off, as he swiftly made his way through the field.

Making their way into Paddock Hill Bend for the second time, Marco Ricci fell foul of this tricky stretch of tarmac, landing in the gravel trap and sadly out of the race.

Back at the front of the field, a fiercely entertaining race was unfolding, as Watkins led Hutchins by just 0.3 seconds. As the pair mirrored one another’s manoeuvres lap after lap, the chasing pack were soon able to catch up.

Despite his eruption of power at the start, Harrison unfortunately came to a halt in the pit lane, after uncovering issues as he rounded Surtees.

With 10 minutes left on the clock, the safety car was scrambled, as officials were called to rescue Richard Dawson. With his stricken car needing attention at Graham Hill Bend, the pace was neutralised for a number of laps.

As the final seven minutes flashed upon the clock, the race was restarted. Jake Dawson and Ollie Hunt followed one another through the Paddock Hill gravel trap at the restart, narrowly avoiding the abandoned car of Ricci. As both kept the momentum going, they managed to rejoin, however both sadly retired a few laps later.

With action aplenty, the final chequered flag of the season fell, crowning Samuel Watkins victorious for the ultimate time. Having vacated his potential second place on the penultimate lap, Hutchins sadly failed to finish, as Jamie Going and Joshua Watkins stole second and third places in his absence.

White steered his way to an overall fourth place finish, to become Class D and the overall 2018 Fiesta Champion, whilst Mark Court secured another Class A success and the Class A title.

Despite finishing 14th overall and eighth in class in the final outing, Harry Gooding was awarded the Class C championship accolade.

All in all it has been a fantastic season of racing once again from our Fiesta Championship collective. Brands Hatch was the perfect way to conclude another season, and with three champions now crowned we look ahead to 2019 and another year of high speed action.

We hope you all have a lovely few months off and look forward to hopefully racing with you again next year.

Leanne Fahy

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