FREKE TAKES FORMULA FORD TITLE AT SILVERSTONE 24 September, 2006: Nathan Freke is the 2006 UK Formula Ford Champion. The 23-year-old clinched the championship this weekend in the best possible style, winning both Silverstone races at the wheel...
FREKE TAKES FORMULA FORD TITLE AT SILVERSTONE
24 September, 2006: Nathan Freke is the 2006 UK Formula Ford Champion. The 23-year-old clinched the championship this weekend in the best possible style, winning both Silverstone races at the wheel of his Newnet-backed, Jamun Racing-prepared Mygale.
His Silverstone victories bring the Kidderminster racer's win tally for the season to nine, with four rounds of the Ford-backed championship remaining. It is the second successive championship win for the Jamun team and for Mygale, and Freke could not have been more delighted. "It's a fantastic way to win the championship," said Nathan, "I couldn't have hoped for a better finish."
Freke's path to title glory saw him overcome early-season domination by Irish driver Peter Dempsey. Added Nathan: "There was massive pressure on me after Peter won the first four rounds. I knew I could beat him, but perhaps a lack of experience counted against me. Then came Snetterton and my first ever win in a racing car, and the tables were turned.
"They say the first win is the most elusive, and it was certainly a huge boost to my confidence." Wins at Brands Hatch, Rockingham, Knockhill and Silverstone followed in quick succession, and Freke is quick to pay tribute to his team and to his sponsors: "The Jamun crew are here to win. That's what drives them and they never rest on their laurels. They are without a doubt the best team out there. I'm so glad they took a chance on me, and I'm completely indebted to my sponsors, Newnet, and to my parents, who have dug deep to get me to this point."
Nathan's mobile is already receiving calls from leading Formula 3 teams keen to sign him, but he believes his racing future may lie in the US. "I'm looking seriously at Formula Atlantic, but keeping my options open for 2007..."
Freke's twin wins were anything but easy. Saturday's race saw him put under intense pressure by Australian hot shot John Martin, and on Sunday he had to overcome a first-lap error and charge back to victory from fourth spot.
Saturday's 15th round of the championship was spoilt by first-lap incidents which ended the races of six drivers - and which resulted in a lengthy safety car period which reduced the event to just seven racing laps.
Freke started from P1 on the 30-car grid - the biggest field of the season so far - and led the opening lap just ahead of Martin, with South Africa's Sean Petterson third.
Four slow laps behind the safety car later, Freke had it all to do once more at the restart. He kept ahead for a lap, but Martin was in determined form and slipped past for the lead next time around. "It think maybe John's tyres warmed up a bit quicker than mine," said Nathan. "He was all over me..."
Freke regained his composure - and the lead - with three laps to go, and his Mygale seized the fastest lap of the race on the final tour to beat Martin's Spectrum to the chequered flag by nine-tenths of a second. "Thankfully my tyres came good when it mattered and I was able to find a way back past John... Not a bad result," said Nathan of his eighth win of the year.
Freke made an unusually poor getaway from the pole on Sunday but his tenure of the lead lasted only as far as Maggotts, where he ran wide and slipped to fifth behind Nash, Ebbesvik, Dempsey and Martin.
As Nash sped away to build a five-second lead, Freke set about clawing his way past Ebbesvik and Martin, and then into second spot after disposing of Dempsey on the fourth lap. Second place would have done him in championship terms, but Nathan wasn't going to settle for that: "I really messed up on the first lap and, because of that, I was determined to catch James and win this one."
Freke whittled away at the gap and, on the penultimate tour, overcame his rival. "I thought I had that in the bag," said Nash, "but I guess Nathan was a bit quicker than I had reckoned on." James was 1.2s behind at the line to claim his second runner-up spot of the season.
The first driver to achieve the maximum point score of 64 this season, 2 x pole, 2 x fastest lap, and 2 x wins, Nathan commented afterwards, ' I had almost settled for second place, knowing that it would guarantee me the title, when I could see the blue Van Diemen in the distance, I just kept pushing and with 2 laps to go was on his tail, next lap I was past and the winning gap was 1.2 seconds, the best possible way to win the championship and a good race for the crowd.
*There's no rest in sight just yet for the championship contenders - they are back in action next weekend (30 Sep/1 Oct) at Thruxton, with the final rounds of the UK Formula Ford Championship scheduled for the following Saturday (7 Oct) at the Castle Combe circuit in Wiltshire.