BRSCC FF1600: The UK’s Race to MRTI Intensifies
 July 13, 2017| 
  • Feeder Series
CASTLE DONINGTON, England – BRSCC Britcover National 1600 Formula Ford Championship rivals Luke Williams and Neil Maclennan emerged from a spectacular weekend of racing at Donington Park on July 8-9 with another win each, as young Irish stars James Roe Jr. and Jordan Dempsey provided further evidence of their potential as the season-long battle to earn a place in the Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200k Scholarship Shootout continues.

Following a trip to Kirkistown in Northern Ireland that had produced the closest action of the season so far and wins for Roe, Jamie Thorburn and Maclennan, the series returned to the UK mainland for a meeting that also counted as the second round of the 'Triple Crown' mini-championship focused on Britain's premier circuits.

In only his second round back after pausing racing to focus on his school exams, Dempsey took a commanding pole position - fastest by 0.4 seconds in a pack where the next 12 cars were covered by 0.6s. He emerged from a hard-fought opening lap in the lead for B-M Racing, running his car on a one-off basis while father Morgan's MCP team was busy in Ireland, and was holding Roe at bay until a broken upright pin sent him off the road and out of the race.

That prompted a 'Code 60' caution period, after which Team Ireland racer Roe commanded the restart and claimed a second win to follow up his maiden triumph at Kirkistown a fortnight earlier.

Josh Fisher and Williams battled through from row five of the grid to complete the podium, Williams' Firman having been held back by a misfire in qualifying. Luke Cooper was in the thick of the fight with them, while Josh Smith rued a potentially down-on-power engine as he fell back from the lead tussle to fifth.

The Cliff Dempsey Racing cars of Stephen Daly, Thorburn and Maclennan were next up - Daly dropping from third at a confusing restart and his team-mates unable to get through the wheel-to-wheel pack.

Roe and Fisher both jumped the start of race two on Sunday morning. Roe still came out on top of a huge tussle with Williams, Cooper, Maclennan and Thorburn to cross the line first, though actual winner Williams had been well aware of his rival's penalty - which dropped Roe to ninth. Fisher was eliminated, along with Daly, in a huge crash triggered as the lead pack dodged a car slowing dramatically with a throttle problem.

Smith was a podium factor again, but was struck by carburetor issues.

Keith Donegan followed up a charge from 32nd to 11th on Saturday after a first-lap tangle by battling to fifth in race two, ahead of James Scott-Murphy, Felix Fisher and the flying Dempsey, up from the back of the grid.

The reverse grid draw for race three gave Dempsey his second pole start of the weekend, though a slow getaway and a later misfire hampered him. Maclennan hacked through from sixth on the grid to the lead by the Melbourne hairpin and then resisted Donegan to clinch his fifth victory of 2017.

Just behind, Williams and Cooper tussled until skating over the gravel at the Fogarty Esses in unison. Dempsey capitalised to beat Cooper to third, while Williams was left down in seventh.

Thorburn escaped a last-corner tangle with team-mate Daly to secure fifth, with Graham Brunton Racing's Ross Martin working his way through to sixth. Roe's impressive weekend ended in a collision with Scott-Murphy.

Words by Matt Beer; Photo courtesy of Bourne Photographic
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