Clarke takes first victory as Makela seals title
Daniel Clarke took his first race win of the season in the UK Formula Ford Championship at Spa-Francorchamps this morning, while a third place finish was enough to give Finland's Valle Makela the 2004 series crown.
Makela only needed to finish inside the top ten in round 18 and a controlled drive wrapped up the title with a visit to the podium, giving him two rounds to spare.
Clarke got a great start from third on the grid to lead as the field came through Eau Rouge. A handful of very quick laps gave the Team JLR driver a healthy lead over team-mate Charlie Kimball. He reeled off the eight laps with ease and was relieved and delighted to finally break onto the top step of the podium.
"It looked easy, didn't it?' he said. "That's how it should have been all year, really. The car was great and once we got through the first corner I just set about putting quick laps in to build up a lead," he added.
His victory sets up a three-way battle between himself, Kimball and Hohenthal for the runner-up position in the championship at the final two races of the season at Brands Hatch next month.
Makela was pleased to have put the title out of his rival's reach at Spa. An early battle with Hohenthal and Suk Sandher meant that he dropped back to fifth place. However, Sandher was unable to carry his race-winning luck through to race two, retiring into the pit-lane at half-distance.
Makela moved back past Hohenthal and put in a couple of quick laps to build up a lead over his team-mate and settled back to take third place.
"I'm very happy to have taken the title here as I didn't really want to go into the last rounds at Brands Hatch with it left in the balance," he said. "I knew what I had to do and didn't want to take any big risks. I managed to build up a lead over Sebastian and it was enough for me to relax before the end," he added.
Hohenthal followed him across the line, just ahead of Joe D'Agostino. The American was unable to challenge the two cars ahead of him and was gradually being caught by Belgian driver Juho Annala. He had enough in hand to take fifth place though.
Scottish racer Sarah Playfair had an interested spectator in the form of Le Mans Endurance Series and ex-F1 racer Allan McNish. She had approached the sportscar racer and fellow countryman for advice about the Spa circuit and he watched her progress from 21st on the grid up to 13th overall on the pit-wall.
<pre> UK Formula Ford Championship -- Round 18 Spa Francorchamps -- Race results: 1 Daniel Clarke Van Diemen RF04 23m48.541s 2 Charlie Kimball Van Diemen RF04 23m50.782s 3 Valle Makela Van Diemen RF03 23m55.330s 4 Sebastian Hohenthal Van Diemen RF03 23m56.717s 5 Joe D'Agostino Van Diemen RF03 24m00.479s 6 Ryan Cannon Van Diemen RF99 24m13.131s