Davidson wins thrilling Formula Ford Festival

Anthony Davidson's preparations for his progression into the British Formula 3 Championship were given a massive boost with a victory in today's Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch

Davidson wins thrilling Formula Ford Festival

The Briton won a titanic four-car battle, probably the best Festival final since the category switched to Zetec engine regulations back in 1993.

"This will make things a lot easier to get into F3," said Davidson, who has tested with Carlin Motorsport and last week with Alan Docking Racing as part of the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver contest. He also gets a try-out for the Jaguar junior team at Valencia on Tuesday.

"A lot depends on the Autosport award," Davidson continued, "but this is the icing on the cake of a great run. I've been around Valencia before too, when I did the Formula Renault Eurocup race recently, and I'm on a real high so that should help."

Davidson's victory was his fifth of the weekend, coming hot on the heels of two in the Grand National European series, as well as in his Festival heat and semi-final.

The 21-year-old got the best getaway at the start of the final in his Haywood Racing Mygale. But, on a track which had almost dried out for the first time all weekend, the French chassis didn't quite seem to have the pace of its Van Diemen opposition.

Persistent contact from the works Van Diemens of Robert Dahlgren and James Courtney over the opening laps meant that Davidson had a bent wishbone from a very early stage. Still he soaked up the pressure, surviving a mid-race lunge from Courtney at Paddock Hill Bend during which the Australian briefly took the lead before sliding wide and back down to third.

On the 15th lap of 20, Finn Olli Kaurala and Dutchman Ferdinand Kool, battling for 10th, made contact at the top of Paddock, Kaurala rolling out of the race and getting trapped in his car as it landed upside down. The race was red-flagged while the unhurt Finn was extracted from the Van Diemen, with the restart held over five laps.

Again Davidson got the best getaway, but Dahlgren inexorably reeled him in. On the final lap Dahlgren attempted a brave move around the outside at Paddock. The Swede took the lead, but slid wide onto the damp line and gently looped into a spin. His Festival hopes ended as he slid backwards through the gravel into the already stranded car of Gary Catt.

Courtney and Mark Taylor had tangled on the penultimate lap, meaning American girl Danica Patrick was elevated into a stunning second place behind Haywood team-mate Davidson. Swede Robin Rudholm somehow escaped the mayhem to complete the podium in his Alain Menu Motorsport Van Diemen.

The other notable performance came from Robert Bell, who magnificently charged from 28th and last spot on the grid for the final into the top six.

Results:
1st Anthony Davidson, GB, Haywood Racing Mygale
2nd Danica Patrick, USA, Haywood Racing Mygale
3rd Robin Rudholm, S, Alain Menu Motorsport Van Diemen
4th Michael Vergers, NL, Andy Welch Racing Mygale
5th Robby Coleman, IRL, Haywood Racing Mygale
6th Robert Bell, GB, Team MDR Van Diemen

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