Joey Foster won the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch circuit on Sunday with a solid lights-to-flag victory. He withstood immense pressure from second placed Marko Asmer, as well as an early safety car period, to maintain his lead and take the win by under 0.4 seconds. Conditions were sunny and cold for the annual event, now in its 32nd year.
"I've learned a lot this year by running at the front and this has given me more confidence", said Foster. "I always thought I was going to do well at the Festival because I always go well at Brands but I wasn't expecting to win!"
Foster got a good start but Ben Clucas, who was alongside him in second place, was slightly slower away and had to pull across to the inside of the track to defend his position. Asmer passed Clucas in Paddock Hill bend to move up to third and this forced Clucas to try unsuccessfully to pass round the outside of Druid's hairpin.
This battle for second allowed Foster to pull away briefly but the gap was short-lived at Foster lost momentum through the fast Paddock Hill bend on his second lap and allowed his pursuers to close, with a further twitch later round the lap reducing the gap to a single car length.
A spinner along the start finish straight on lap three brought out the safety car for several laps. Tony Rodgers had spun at the exit of Clearways and stopped sideways thus blocking the right-hand side of the track. The race continued under local waved yellow flags until the Safety Car was deployed on lap six to allow the car to be towed over the far side of the track beyond a run-off area. The race resumed on lap nine and both Foster and Amser pulled out a short gap from the following two cars.
Alx Danielsson had been running extremely well until this point, having set the fastest lap of the race on lap three nearly half a second faster than anyone else, but he suddenly slowed at the end of lap 10 and crossed the line a few miles per hour slower than the cars around him. He continued to fight however but unfortunately collected Matthew Koskinen at Graham Hill Bend sending both cars spinning into retirement.
Asmer took a different line to Foster though Paddock Hill bend every lap, pulling far over to the left before turning into the fast right-hander. Foster, meanwhile, entered the corner from the middle of the track and on each this lap this allowed Asmer to almost pull alongside on the outside. Foster's exit speed was always greater however and this allowed him to hold his lead with a small gap up to Druid's hairpin.
Tom Kimber-Smith was running in third as he reeled in Asmer and the leading trio were running nose-to-tail from lap 18 for the remainder of the 25-lap race. Initially both Kimber-Smith and Asmer attacked duelled allowing Foster some breathing space, but then Kimber-Smith fell back very slightly and this allowed Asmer to resume his pressure on Foster.
Amser's car fell away towards the end as he ran wide at the final corner on lap 20 and had to fiercely defend from Kimber-Smith. "I was hoping for the win after 5 laps, but I started to slow down towards the end. I couldn't get close enough to Joey", said a slightly disappointed Asmer.
Kimber-Smith ultimately finished third, but the 2003 Formula Ford champion was clearly disappointed with the result, saying "I would have loved to have won the festival but third place is not too bad".
Foster left the circuit with a race win and pole position in the final, as well as wins in his heat and elimination rounds. He also joins a roll of honour of previous winners that includes present and past Formula One drivers such as Jenson Button, Mark Webber, Anthony Davidson, Johnny Herbert and Eddie Irvine.