DEMPSEY REMAINS UNBEATABLE Peter Dempsey continued his unstoppable form in rounds three and four of the UK Formula Ford Championship at Donington Park - winning both races in extremely difficult conditions, and extending his championship lead to...
DEMPSEY REMAINS UNBEATABLE
Peter Dempsey continued his unstoppable form in rounds three and four of the UK Formula Ford Championship at Donington Park - winning both races in extremely difficult conditions, and extending his championship lead to 19 points in the process.
The Irish Ferries/Cliff Dempsey Racing Ray driver's victories were a masterclass in maximising your opportunities. Many other frontrunners felt that they might have been able to beat Dempsey this weekend, and would blame traffic, the weather, or happenstance for their failure to do so, but Dempsey simply shrugged off all the uncertainties caused by the changeable climate at the Leicestershire circuit, got himself to the front of the field, and made sure that he stayed there.
The track was drying slightly during Saturday morning's damp qualifying session, making it essential to get a good lap in when conditions were at their best in the final minutes. Dempsey's supporters might have been concerned as he languished down the top ten early on, but he rallied when it counted and threw in two perfect laps at the end of the session to secure pole for both races - by a comfortable 0.6 seconds on the first grid, and 0.4 seconds for race two.
With the rain temporarily departing Donington on Saturday afternoon, Dempsey led the field away on a dry track at the start of race one. Just as he has getting into his stride and easing clear, the safety car emerged to deal with the aftermath of a three-car pile-up, bringing the field right back onto Dempsey's tail and leaving him extremely vulnerable at the restart. But he dealt expertly with the situation, keeping his rivals in check and then sprinting away at just the right moment. As the rest of the frontrunners tripped over each other while fighting for second, Dempsey was able to stride off into the distance. Nick Tandy eventually managed to extricate himself from the gaggle and close in on the leader, but Dempsey could not be denied.
"My restart definitely won me the race," said Peter afterwards. "Then I pushed really hard to build up a gap and it was just as well that I did because Nick was catching me rapidly towards the end."
The second race was slightly more straightforward, despite conditions being a lot worse. Dempsey made a clean start from pole position and kept a sufficient gap back to the chasing Nathan Freke throughout the 14 laps, eventually taking the chequered flag 2.4 seconds ahead.
"Today was a bit easier than yesterday," Dempsey admitted. "I felt that if we had to go a bit quicker today, we could, because the team gave me a brilliant car for these conditions.
"I wasn't expecting to be as quick here because I haven't had so much track time at Donington. I expect I'll have to work a bit harder for it at Snetterton."
With the Snetterton race a whole two months away and plenty of opportunity for testing during that hiatus, the championship could look very different when the series resumes. But on this form, it is hard to imagine Dempsey being anywhere other than at the front of the pack.