BRSCC FF1600: Murray Masters Brands Hatch
 July 16, 2016| 
  • Feeder Series
FAWKHAM, U.K. – Over the weekend of July 9/10 at Brands Hatch, two victories meant Niall Murray took a step closer to claiming the Avon Tyres National Formula Ford 1600 Championship and booking his place at the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout to compete for the US$200,000 scholarship drive in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. This weekend of reckoning will take place on December 6/7 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

After something of a hiatus at Rockingham when James Raven took his Ray GR15/16 to a brace of wins, Murray was back to the fore at the Kent track where he took pole for the opening race. There was practically nothing separating the field as the fastest 20 cars were covered by one second. Second quickest was Stephen Daly’s Ray GR11 with Raven down in fifth having been unable to hook up a perfect lap.

When the red lights went out Murray took the lead into Paddock Hill Bend. Since they last fielded cars in the National series at Silverstone in April, the RFR squad have developed their RF16 chassis which meant Luke Williams was closer than ever to the front of the field. From third on the grid, Williams moved up a place at the start and harried Murray during the opening laps before becoming embroiled in a battle with Daly and Raven.

Lap 12 saw Daly move up into second at Paddock and then Williams was further demoted by Raven into Druids on the following circuit. Shortly afterwards, Raven had a massive amount of oversteer exiting Graham Hill Bend. This slide caused Williams to lift allowing Jake Byrne to seize the moment to get his Ray GR13 ahead along the Cooper Straight. This was to be key in deciding the order of the podium places.

Raven and Daly had a wonderful battle over the runner-up position – they completed an entire lap side by side at one point. Raven eventually came out on top with a decisive manoeuvre at Clearways but it was all to no avail as he and Daly both received five-second penalties for track limit infringements. These promoted Byrne and Williams up to second and third.

The final classification determined the grid for Race Two in which Murray converted pole into the race lead once more, however before the end of the second lap Williams had demoted him. These two had already opened up a gap to the rest of the field and so, when Murray immediately started to fight back, Williams decided to let him go and slotted in behind. His intention was in remain in second for a while so that they could work together to pull away from the pack however the set-up of the RFR wasn’t quite as good as it could be enabling Murray to pull away and take victory with a 10-second margin over the next car home.

Rather than slip-streaming the eventual winner, Williams fell into the clutches of third-placed Raven. The RFR man was determined not to lose any more places but in defending his position so vigorously it harmed his lap times. Before long others had closed in creating a fabulous nine-car fight for the runner-up position.

During the remainder of the 20 minutes, only Raven breeched Williams’ defences when he got a better run out of Paddock and squeezed by into Druids despite getting edged on to the grass. Williams was happy to complete the podium in third and hopes to have unlocked more pace from the car when the Formula Ford Festival at Brands takes place later in the year so that he is fighting for the win.

Rounds 11 and 12 of the Avon Tyres UK National Formula Ford 1600 Championship will be staged at Anglesey Circuit in North Wales on August 6/7.

Words by Dave Williams
Photo courtesy of Rachel Bourne/Bourne Photographic
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