FAWKHAM, England Californian Patrick Long dominated last weekend's British Formula Ford doubleheader at Brand Hatch, taking two pole positions, one victory, a second, and a fastest lap. This outstanding result -- achieved in both damp and dry conditions -- moved Long into second place in the Slick 50 British Formula Ford Championship points chase.
In short, it was the most successful weekend of Long's motor racing career, vaulting him into the limelight as a serious title challenger and proving he is not only quick, but capable of winning races against the top junior driver's in the world. The Brands Hatch win was Long's second of the year; he also won Round 4 at Oulton Park in May.
"This was a great result and a great weekend," said the 19-year old Van Diemen works driver, "my best weekend in England so far. It was good for my position in the team, too, as I was able to beat all my teammates, and now I have momentum on my side. My confidence is sky high."
Long nabbed the pole for Race 1 in qualifying on Saturday, with a lap 15 .seconds clear of Ronnie Bremer of Denmark. From pole, he led the early laps despite pressure from Van Diemen teammate and early-season points leader Richard Goransson of Sweden. The duo traded places several times before Long pulled off a breathtaking, outside-line, damp-track pass into Graham Hill Bend with three laps remaining. Long then fended off Goranssan the rest of the way to claim his second victory of the year.
Grid positions for Race 2 were taken according to the finishing positions from Race 1; this gave Long pole position -- and his second championship bonus point of the weekend. Again, Long took the lead at the green, with Goransson making an early mistake and falling down into the pack. Long was then challenged by South African Alan van der Merwe's Mygale and the Van Diemen of championship leader Robert Dahlgren.
On Lap 2, Van der Merwe took the lead from Long at Paddock Hill Bend. However, as Long was poised to challenge, van der Merwe's engine sputtered out of Surtees Bend, forcing Long to dodge to his right over a kerb. This allowed Dahlgren to slipstream past both of them. Long pressured Dahlgren aggressively, hoping to force the Swede into a mistake, but the Swede held for a narrow victory. Long, however, did set fastest lap, good for one more bonus point.
Patrick Long's championship quest continues July 21-22 at Donnington Park. For more information on Patrick Long, visit his website at: www.patricklong. com. And to follow the Slick 50 Formula Ford Championship, log on to www.powertour.co.uk. <pre> Brands Hatch Results, Race 1
1 Patrick Long 2 Richard Goransson 3 Alan Van Der Merwe 4 Westley Barber 5 Robert Dahlgren
Brands Hatch Results, Race 2
1 Robert Dahlgren 2 Patrick Long 3 Alan Van Der Merwe 4 Westley Barber 5 Robin Rudholm
Championship Standings (Points are awarded to the top- 15 finishers at each round as follows: 30-27-25-22-20-18-16-14-12-10-8-6-4-2-1. Pole position = 1 point. Fastest lap = 1 point.)
1 Robert Dahlgren 173 2 Patrick Long 152 3 Richard Goransson 148 4 Alan Van Der Merwe 137 5 Robert Bell 119