Makela on title mission at Spa
Finland's Valle Makela can seal the UK Formula Ford Championship next weekend as the series makes its first visit to the Grand Prix circuit of Spa Francorchamps in Belgium.
Makela has been dominating the championship from the start of the season and he currently stands 71 points clear at the top of the table. With a maximum of 128 points left before the end of the year, he needs to come away from Spa with a 68 point, or more, lead to lift the Formula Ford crown. A pair of second places would be enough to put it out of reach of his closest rival, American Charlie Kimball.
A set-back in Makela's title charge came at the last race at Thruxton, when he was disqualified from the results. The missed score has not put his lead in the points in immediate danger. But, a brace of non-finishes at Spa would allow Kimball to close right up and put him under immense pressure at the final round at Brands Hatch next month.
The high-speed and flowing nature of Spa should produce two cracking Formula Ford races. Like Thruxton, getting an all-important tow around the circuit will be crucial to a fast qualifying time. It may also prove to be the only way for the racers to overtake down the long straights during the races. Close and tight battles should the order of the weekend.
Irishman Charlie Donnelly made a welcome return to the top step of the podium in the second Thruxton race. The victory pushed him back into contention for a top three result by the end of the season. However, it will mean non-finishes for a handful of drivers above him and a return to the winners circle.
Sebastian Hohenthal is right behind Kimball in the championship table and took pole position for race two at Thruxton. Unfortunately, he squandered the benefit of the front row start and had to settle for fourth place. He will want to get the upper-hand on fellow Scandinavian Makela around the famous circuit and join Kimball in taking the race for the title down to the wire at Brands Hatch.
Daniel Clarke took a second and third place at Thruxton and has upped his game over the last few rounds and is the only other driver who can mathematically catch Makela. He could well be an outside bet for victory next weekend as he has not yet managed to break into the winners circle this season.
His Team JLR team-mate, American Joe D'Agostino has been one of the few drivers to go wheel to wheel with Makela this season. The pair had a clash at the start of the second race on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, giving the American his first race win of the season. He likes the longer tracks and the twists and turns of Spa will suit him. Although he is no longer able to challenge for the outright lead of the Championship, he is still battling for the Scholarship Cup and will be out to prove a point.
Japanese racer Yuya Sakamoto scored his first race win of the year in race one at Thruxton. He controlled the race at the front from the opening lap and it will have boosted his confidence as he heads over to Belgium. He has been challenging for the top step of the podium all year long and now he has the taste of the victory champagne he will no doubt want to return.
As well as fighting amongst themselves over the course of the weekend, the series regulars will also be up against the drivers from the Benelux Formula Ford Championship. Some of these drivers will have local knowledge of the Spa circuit and will be out to prove themselves with the best the UK series has to offer.
<pre> UK Formula Ford Championship Championship Points: 1 Valle Makela 403 2 Charlie Kimball 332 3 Sebastian Hohenthal 315 4 Daniel Clarke 306 5 Joe D'Agostino 267 6 Charlie Donnelly 245