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DONINGTON PARK 4th JUNE 2017
FORD DENIED AS BENNETT ACHIEVES AMBITION
Due to a handful of drivers competing in the CIK-FIA European Mono Cylinder Cup, it was decided to have two qualifying races for those drivers not participating in the Euro series so that they could set a lap time for the GP. Unfortunately, it took some time to mesh together the various lap times across the CIK timed events and the TSL timed events. Eventually it was sorted and Jordie Ford was on pole after his record breaking run earlier in the day. James O’Reilly joined him on the front row after winning one of the ‘qualifiers’ and leading the other until a cylinder head insert cracked. Row 2 had Jack Layton and Gavin Bennett. Paul Platt headed row 3 and he was joined by Andy Bird who won the other ‘qualifier’ after O’Reilly’s demise. Gareth James should have been next on the grid but there was no compression from his DEA engine and it wouldn’t start in the pit garage. A piston ring had stuck.
When the lights changed it was Ford who made the best start to lead into Redgate with O’Reilly tucked in behind ahead of Layton and Bennett. Layton moved up to second by the end of the opening lap and was pressuring Ford. The skies were looking cloudy and on lap 2 there was light rain. Ford increased his lead as Layton eased off. O’Reilly regained second spot but he had Bennett in close company. Platt lost ground and tumbled from fourth spot down to seventh. On the next lap Bird took a trip across the gravel when the rain caught him out and ended up facing the wrong way. Fortunately, he kept the motor running and rejoined in ninth place. Ross Allen also had a spin and fell back to 19th.
Up at the front Ford made no mistakes and after a couple of laps the track dried out. He extended his lead and by half distance it was up to 5.451s. Bennett and O’Reilly were locked together for second place and Platt was back into 4th spot as Layton was having problems with his DEA. At the end of the following lap the Parker Motorsport driver toured into the pits with a misfiring motor caused by an electrical problem and retired.
Ford’s pace was relentless and on lap 7 he broke the lap record and looked to be on the way to retaining his GP plate. But all was not right. As he entered Redgate for the final time there was a definite misfire coming from the DEA, however, his lead was still over seven seconds. Down through Craner Curves he lost 3.7s to his pursuers but then the earth wire broke after half a lap and Bennett and O’Reilly flashed by. They encountered back markers on the final lap and that just gave Bennett enough breathing space to take the win and his first GP title in the F250 National class after several years of trying. O’Reilly had to be content with second place 1.586s behind after a good effort. Paul Platt was way off the pace with his Gas Gas and was a disconsolate third. Sifleet had a solid race for fourth place ahead of a recovering Bird. Ford crawled round the remainder of the lap and just secured sixth spot ‘absolutely gutted.’
Results (10 laps)
1 Gavin Bennett (Anderson DEA)
2 James O’Reilly (Anderson Viper)
3 Paul Platt (PVP Gas Gas)
4 Aaron Sifleet (Anderson Gas Gas)
5 Andy Bird (Anderson Gas Gas)
6 Jordan Ford (Anderson DEA)
RECORD Lap Ford 1m 30.650s (98.78mph)
Words by Gary James
Images by Nick Purdie