DOUBLE POLE FOR BRATT ON FPA DEBUT AT BRANDS INDY
British Racing Drivers' Club 'Rising Star' Will Bratt made a stunning start to his first ever weekend in a Formula Palmer Audi single-seater at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit earlier today, the Banbury sensation securing pole position for two of Sunday's three Autumn Trophy races at the 1.2-mile Kent track.
The 19-year-old, who finished an outstanding third overall in the recently concluded 2007 Formula Renault UK Championship with four race wins and three other podiums, today underlined his ability as one of Britain's very best single-seater drivers by adapting seamlessly to his 300bhp FPA car without any prior running other than Friday's short test.
Participating in the opening weekend of the 2007 Visma Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy in order to gain valuable FPA experience ahead of next weekend's McLaren Autosport BRDC Award 'shoot-out' at Snetterton in Norfolk, Will made a perfect start on his category debut during this morning's first qualifying session by taking pole position.
Lapping the Indy Circuit with a time of 44.422 seconds (97.13mph), the Oxford University scholar outpaced 21 other competitors to secure the top spot on the grid, his closest challengers including ex-Formula Renault UK rival Richard Keen and reigning Formula Palmer Audi Champion Tim Bridgman.
During the second session Will again emerged as the fastest driver to clinch back-to-back pole position starts with a time of 44.645 seconds (96.65mph) and although missing out on a clean sweep of pole positions by just five 100ths of a second, Will isn't fazed by starting the last of tomorrow's races from third on the grid -- three wins remain his realistic focus.
"It would have been fantastic to take pole position for all three races but we're happy with our performance today. Back-to-back pole starts for the first two races and a second row start for race three, just a few hundredths of a second shy of pole, isn't bad at all on our debut in Formula Palmer Audi", commented Will.
"The car wasn't perfect, the back end needs more work before raceday, but if we can make it more planted to the track at the rear then I'm confident we can find another two or three 10ths of a second and undoubtedly challenge for all three race victories."
Supported for the six-race series by long-standing Bedfordshire-based sponsor Apotex UK Ltd, Will's reason for contesting the Autumn Trophy is to put himself in contention for the final placing in this year's McLaren Autosport BRDC Award evaluations, the accolade renowned as the most prestigious prize in British motorsport.
The sixth and final participant in this year's award assessments will be the driver who achieves the highest points score from the last two races of next weekend's FPA Autumn Trophy finale at Snetterton. For many Will was an obvious choice to be one of the five finalists announced a couple of weeks ago so he is determined the final spot will be his.
Not only does he aim to steer his red and white Apotex UK entered car to a hat-trick of victories on his FPA race debut tomorrow, Will is bidding to cement his reputation as one of the country's most outstanding young drivers before going on to challenge for, and win, next weekend's McLaren Autosport BRDC Award 'shoot-out'.
"It's been an interesting experience so far and, all in all, I'm really happy with how things have gone. The car is a lot heavier than the Formula Renault I'm used to but we haven't had any problems adapting. With more time in the car tomorrow I'm confident we can head to Snetterton in great shape for the shoot-out, winning that is the ultimate goal."
Being heavier than the Apotex Scorpio Motorsport-run Formula Renault UK car Will has piloted for the last three years isn't the only difference between the two single-seaters, the 1.8-litre Formula Palmer Audi racer offering 300bhp -- as opposed to the 192bhp from the Formula Renault -- with an additional 60bhp available via a special 'overboost' system.
Race one of the 2007 Visma Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy is scheduled to take place at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit tomorrow, Sunday, 28th October, at approximately 11.05 with the second race timetabled to follow at 13.20 and race three expected to begin at 15.20. Each of the three encounters will be contested over 28 laps.