Brands Hatch, England - 17th October, 1999
Kent White-Washing by Championship Team
Sunday's final round of the Kent Formula Ford Championship at Brands Hatch was white-washed by this years champions, PA Motorsport. Australian driver and 1999 Kent Formula Ford Champion, Brett Francis, took his eleventh victory of the year in typical dominant fashion, finishing the race with a lead of almost twelve seconds. Francis had already sewn up the title in the previous round, but the pace of the Ashford-based team has increased in the lead-up to this years big event - the Formula Ford Festival and World Finals.
Francis will be competing in his familiar 1600cc Swift Formula Ford at the Festival, the car with which he won Sunday's race and the Kent crown this year, but will also drive in the more powerful Zetec category for the World Finals. PA Motorsport have prepared one of their 1997 model Van Diemens for the Antipodean charger, which he drove for the first time over the weekend. Against a field of international hopefuls, here to compete in the World Finals, Francis finished a respectable fifth place. "The cars have very different characteristics to drive," commented Francis at the end of a hectic day. "I know I need to find some speed in the car, but this weekend was just about getting a feel for the extra power and grip that these cars offer. I was worried that jumping from one car to the other might be a bit tricky, so it was a relief to find that the swap didn't affect my driving in the Kent race."
However, this news didn't come as a relief to his fellow competitors. The 1600cc race may have looked won by the second lap, as the Sittingbourne- based Nigel Mansell Race School instructor had already gained a two second gap to nearest rival Jason Down. But Francis kept the crowd enthralled as he pushed the PA Motorsport 1993 Swift to the limit. There were some spectacular moments as the car sped around at over one second a lap quicker than the rest of the field. During the shortened eleven lap encounter, Francis managed to continually lower his own track record, finally settling on a new mark just under the fifty-one second barrier.
Brett reflected on his race, and ultra-successful season in the Kent Championship:
"It was nice not having any pressure to score championship points during this race, so I set myself a target to try and establish a new lap record. The first lap was a worry with some of the slower Zetec cars balking me and allowing Jason to have a small look on the approach to Surtees. I was actually trying to slow the pace on that first lap to let the Zetecs get away, because it would have been easy to get caught up in one of their incidents. Thankfully nothing happened and on the second lap I could get my head down. The car was absolutely brilliant, very easy to push hard, although the track conditions weren't quite as good as they have been. I think for next weeks 1600 Festival race I probably won't take as many risks and just concentrate on getting a good result."
"I couldn't have wished for a better result to end of the season. To Peter and the whole PA Motorsport team I owe a great deal of thanks. I've been in the fastest car on the track all year, it has never had a mechanical problem, and the team are very supportive. The season has been thoroughly enjoyable, and I hope to stay with them for next year to move into the Zetec category. I'll be driving one of the PA Motorsport Zetecs at the Festival next weekend, so it will be a taste of what I hope will be my seat in 2000."
"The World Finals will be one of the most intensive events I have ever competed in, and it's a challenge I'm looking forward too. It's going to be difficult competing against drivers who have been racing these cars all year. If I can put in a respectable performance I'll be happy, but the Festival has always been a funny affair, so you never know!"
The Formula Ford Festival and World Finals are on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit on the 23rd and 24th of October.
Kent Formula Ford Championship - Final Positions (unofficial) 1. Brett Francis (1600) 177 2. Neale Blunden (Zetec) 139 3. Matt Wood (1600) 130 4. Mark Langfield (Zetec) 111 5. Nick Padmore (Zetec) 104