Formula Blue in U.K. Race Report May 2014 – Mansell Raceway

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Formula Blue Race Report May 2014
After a very damp practice Saturday at Mansell Raceway, race day was looking to be a drier affair and that is how it turned out with the circuit dry enough for slicks as the Formula Blue grid took to the track for their 3 lap warm up. 18 drivers in the senior class and 4 in the junior class were all set to contest the latest round of the 2014 Formula Blue Challenge.
Heat one saw current O plate holder and pole man, Martin Wheeler, get off to a fantastic start to the day with an untroubled lights to flag win. Behind him it was Duncan Mcleod and Ian Branfield battling it out for second spot. Mcleod launched himself from 9th on the grid to get up into second ahead of Branfield by lap 2 but Branfield was not about to give up and managed to squeeze past a lap later to regain the place. On lap 5 the positions were once again reversed as Mcleod got past Branfield and this time managed to make it stick putting a very small gap between himself and Branfield to cross the line 0.3 of a second ahead of him. Chris Derrick was in fourth with Wheeler claiming the fastest lap with a 50.26 on lap 6.
Heat 2 and a first corner scuffle caused a small drama but it was Chris Derrick who benefitted coming through from 6th on the grid to take the lead as pole lady, Katie Helps tumbled down the rankings. Also on the move were Wheeler and Mcleod with the pair scything through the pack to 5th and 6th respectively by the start of lap 2. It was Wheeler who was the most clinical as he made up places on consecutive laps to find himself in third by lap 4 and from there he set about hunting down Derrick. Mcleod, caught up in traffic, nevertheless found himself coming through into third by the start of lap 5. Out front, Wheeler was reeling in Derrick and got past him on lap 7 going on to take the flag by 2.6 seconds and recording his second fastest lap of day with a 49.7. Derrick held on to second with Mcleod coming through in third some 3 seconds behind him. Branfield was fourth.
If heat 2 was a demonstration of Wheelers clinical ability to get through traffic, then the Cornishman from Wadebridge put on a masterclass in heat 3! From the back of the grid in 17th place by the end of lap 1 he was up into 8th place. Out front, Sam Dible had got past a charging Mcleod to take the lead, forcing Mcleod to slot in behind and keep tabs on the young driver for a couple of laps before regaining the lead on lap 3. By the end of lap 2 Ian Branfield, in fourth, had company in the shape of championship leader, Wheeler, who cruised up behind him on lap 7 and then relieved him of third place on lap 8. Wheeler then set about Dible, dispatching him on the next lap with Branfield following him through to demote Dible to fourth. Up front it was now a battle between Wheeler and Mcleod as the gap between the lead pair reduced and Wheeler got on to the bumper of Mcleod. On lap 10, Wheeler was through and Mcleod had to settle for second with Branfield securing third with Dible fourth. It was a stunning drive by Wheeler who collected his third fastest lap of the day with a 49.5.
The Grid for the final was a true reflection of the competitiveness of this class as Wheeler and Mcleod filled the front row with Branfield and Dible behind. The only usual suspect missing was Chris Derrick who having not started heat 3 was unable to start the final. At lights out, Wheeler was away with Mcleod and Branfield right behind him. Dible had a poor start dropping to 6th before fighting his way back to fourth on lap 7. Out front Wheeler and Mcleod pulled away from Branfield and whilst Mcleod had the pace he just couldn’t find a way past Wheeler who capped off a perfect day by taking the chequered flag for the fourth time. Mcleod had kept him honest and his fastest lap of a 49.5 was scant reward for his efforts. Branfield was third and Dible fourth.
In the Junior Blue class, despite there only being 4 entries, with two of them being novices, the racing was equally good to watch with the class mixed in with the DKRC Minimax grid.
Heat one and Luke Lattimer took the flag recording a 53.1 but closer examination of the timing sheet showed that second placed driver, Thomas Massarella, who despite being a novice was quicker with a 53.06. This was going to be interesting to watch. Jordan Elcock, also on his novice plates was third with a 57.3 with Taylor Waldron failing to finish the race.
Heat 2 saw Waldron dropped at the start as Lattimer and Massarella muscled their way through to relegate him into third. Lattimer kept the novice driver behind him until lap 10 when a great passing move saw Massarella get through to take the place off him and hold it to be the first Junior Blue over the line. Lattimer was second with Waldron third.
Heat 3 was a straight battle between Lattimer and Massarella with the more experienced driver holding on to the lead for the first 9 laps. However, on lap 10, Massarella struck and once again found himself out front in the class race. It was a confident drive and evidence that this is a competitive class across all levels of experience. Massarella took his second heat win, with Latttimer second and Waldron third.
With his confidence sky high, Massarella made the most of his class grid position and made sure that once out front he would stay there. Despite a strong drive by Lattimer, he just didn’t have the grunt to find a way past the novice who duly went on to take the class win with Lattimer having to settle for second. Elcock put in a stunning drive to make it 2 novices on the podium by taking third.
Overall, it was a great demonstration across both classes, both senior and junior that the racing is close, competitive and cost effective. With the NKRA round at Mansell Raceway next month, there will be plenty more action when these drivers return to do battle once more.

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