Lydden Hill, England - 7th August, 1999
PA Motorsport continue winning ways
Folkestone based team, PA Motorsport, today secured their seventh win of the season in the 1600 category of the Kent Formula Ford Championship. PA's driver Brett Francis extended his championship lead with strong performances in both rounds of the double-header, although some dubious driving tactics in the second event almost spelled disaster for the Australian.
Qualifying for the first race would be indicative of how the day would progress, with red flags being shown after only a few laps of the tight Lydden circuit. Francis had already sealed his eighth pole position in '99 with a time that no-one could near once the session was restarted. The second qualifying session would prove more difficult, with copious amounts of oil from a previous category coating the circuit. The Queenslander admitted to driving "far too cautiously" in the slippery conditions, but still secured a position on the front row.
Despite a slow getaway, round nine of the championship saw Brett take a convincing win in the Swift SC93F. Beaten off the line by former Lydden champion Chris Glazier and Keith Wood, Brett retook second place at Devil's Elbow with a daring outside pass. Setting his sights on the lead, it wasn't long before he dived underneath Glazier into the fast Paddock Bend. Francis set about quickly establishing a gap, setting fastest lap in the process before red flags halted the race at just over half distance.
Race two would have the crowd enthralled as the main title contenders lined up on the first and second rows of the grid. Pole-sitter Dave Connor made the best start, with Francis snapping at his heels over the first lap.
As the leader began to look in his mirrors, Brett faked another outside move at Devil's Elbow. Predictably Connor swerved to block him, only for Brett to switch to the inside as they braked hard and late. Observers held their breath as Connor swerved back to the inside, but Brett was already through and took the lead as they powered towards the hairpin. It looked as though the Aussie was set to storm away for a repeat victory, only for the ever-present red flags to signal a halt to the race.
With drivers having to return to their original starting positions, Brett was confident of having the pace and race-craft to get past Connor once again. A better start saw Francis challenge the lead into the first corner, but the combination of some aggressive blocking in front and Matt Wood close behind made the task all the more difficult. Again Brett made his move around the outside of the Elbow, aiming for an inside run into the hairpin. Having placed the PA Motorsport Swift alongside Connor as they powered out of the corner it looked like Brett's move had worked to perfection. To the crowd's amazement Connor suddenly veered towards Francis, forcing him off the track and towards the tyre wall. As the car bounced across the grass, local brothers Matt and Keith Wood surged by to take second and third respectively. Once back on the track, Brett gave chase but was beaten once more by the red flag to a podium position. This would be the first time this year that he hadn't finished a race on the podium.
Following a few words with his aggressor after the event, Brett commented:
"Dave Connor was doing his usual swerving tactics, which always makes it difficult to pass. I can't believe that the officials haven't done anything about it yet, especially as it was so blatantly obvious during this race. But this is by far the most dangerous stunt I have seen him perform yet. I was completely alongside and he simply turned towards me, leaving me the option of having a huge shunt or taking to the grass."
"I summoned together all of the luck I could muster to get out of that one! It really was out of my control how it would end up. It is so bumpy off the tarmac at that part of the circuit that the car was airborne most of the time. I was see-sawing on the wheel to keep away from the tyre barrier, and it finally settled down on the small access road in the middle of the circuit. Of course I had lost momentum and the Wood brothers both got by me. Keith and I had a good dice for a few laps before yet another red flag came out."
"It's funny how everyone in the race can drive side-by-side without forcing each other off the track, except for Connor. I'm extremely angry about the incident, but I won't let that overshadow what was otherwise another strong weekend. The car was working beautifully, and the changes we made to the set-up seem to help in race conditions. Once I get my head around them fully I hope that we can get a few more wins at Lydden."
The next round will be on the 22nd of August at the Lydden Hill circuit.
Kent Formula Ford Championship positions after 10 rounds 1. Brett Francis 111 2. Matt Wood 71 3. Keith Wood 67 4. Dave Conner 62 5. Gideon Creswell 46 6. Chris Glazier 42