Castle Combe, England& ...
Castle Combe, England– 6th October, 2001 - Double Kent Formula Ford Champion, Brett Francis, may be forced to miss this years most prestigious junior formula event, the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, due to injuries sustained during an accident at the Castle Combe Carnival today. The young Australian was holding second place in the final of the FF1600 race and catching race leader and eventual winner Adrian Cottrell when third placed driver Alx Danielsson lunged Francis at the quick Tower Corner on the penultimate lap. The PA Motorsport Swift SC93F was flipped into the air at over 70mph, precariously close to rolling over completely, before crashing into the barriers head-on at unabated speed.
Francis had his right foot caught in the pedals for a short while after the impact, but after releasing his foot was able to climb from the wreckage unaided despite obvious pain in his leg. The front of the car was destroyed and many components had come back into the pedals and cockpit area. Away from the circuit it was discovered that Francis had suffered damage to the ligaments of his right knee, bruising of the coccyx at the base of his spine and bruising to his right foot. It is thought that the damage to his knee may be the injury that will keep him from racing for a few weeks.
Surveying the wreckage of the car that has taken the Maidstone-based Brisbane driver to two consecutive Kent Formula Ford Championships and a Formula Ford Festival FF1600 race win, Francis commented on the accident:
“ It was a stupidly desperate move on Danielsson’s part. He wasn’t close enough to have a serious go, and put me in a position where I either had to drive off the circuit and into the barrier anyway, or leave as much room as possible and hope that we could both make it around the corner. But of course the line he was taking into the corner and the speed he was carrying meant that he slid into me. I stayed as wide as possible but his front wheel slid into my rear and flipped me up.” “ At first I thought I was going over– the car definitely had the attitude to do it. If that was the case I would have gone into the barrier top-side first, which wasn’t going to be pretty. Luckily it started to come back down, but of course being in the air it didn’t slow at all before it hit the Armco. There was a single row of tyres in front but they didn’t do anything except make sure the wheels were ripped off. In reality I was lucky not to be more seriously injured, but naturally not very happy.”
“ We had been dicing cleanly up until that point. Countless times we had gone through various corners side-by-side and given each other room. It looked as though Adrian was struggling with a problem, because we were catching him very quickly. I don’t know if he just eased off, but it was going to be an interested last lap if I’d made it that far. Unfortunately it seems to be the mentality of drivers these days that if you can’t get by fairly, you do a desperate move and hope it works out for you. It did for him, but I’m left with a stuffed racing car and a limp. These guys don’t have any race-craft and aren’t able to set up a passing move. I always thought that most passes were planned corners if not laps in advance. He must think that a pass is planned at the moment of impact. It will be touch and go now if I can race at the Festival.