Oct 26, 2016
Brands Hatch, Kent, UK – Wednesday 26th October 2016: Mullingar’s Jordan Dempsey has completed his first participation in the ultra-competitive and highly regarded Brands Hatch Formula Ford Festival with a superb top 10 finish aboard his Van Diemen LA10 supported by Motorsport Ireland, Sport Ireland and Celtic Speed.
With a spring in his step following the recent announcement that he had been nominated as the sixth and final nominee for the highly sought after Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year award, Dempsey travelled to Brands Hatch for his debut at the Kent circuit for one of the biggest Formula Ford 1600 events of the year. An event that has seen the likes of former Formula 1 Driver and FIA World Endurance Champion Mark Webber, former Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button and 24 Hours of Le Mans Winner Nick Tandy all adorn the winners roll of honour in years gone by.
With pre-event testing starting on Wednesday, Jordan was already taking chunks out of his times on every lap as he acclimatised himself to the Indy configuration Brands Hatch circuit. By the end of day one, Dempsey was within four tenths of a second of the main pace setters, one of which was teammate Niall Murray.
Throughout the remaining days Jordan showed a level of maturity and progress that totally out-weighted his years of experience. By the final session on Friday evening, Dempsey was now within just two tenths of a second of the outright fastest recorded lap over the three days of testing, set by drivers with multiple years of experience in Formula Ford 1600.
Being selected to run in the third of three heats on Saturday morning, Jordan would be competing against plenty of former Formula Ford 1600 race and championship winners for his place in Sunday’s Semi Finals. Qualifying was a breeze for Dempsey, quickly setting a strong and consistent pace to finish the session in sixth, just over three tenths of a second off the session’s best time.
Starting from the outside of row three, it was a good opening lap for the Mullingar teenager moving up to fifth and in hot pursuit of fellow Irish driver Jake Byrne. Settling into a very consistent pace over the coming laps, Dempsey kept himself within regular striking distance of the lead pack should anyone falter up in front. Coming into the final laps, Jordan was getting closer and closer to challenging Byrne for fourth, but ran out of time as the chequered flag fell after 12 laps.
Placing himself in a very solid sixth on the grid for Sunday morning’s Semi-Final two, this would be a crucial race to decide if Jordan would make it straight through to the Formula Ford Festival final on Sunday afternoon. A strong getaway allowed Dempsey to remain in touch with the lead pack on the run up to druids, but drama in front would ensue with a multi-car incident on the exit of Druids that he narrowly managed to avoid. The incident necessitated a Safety Car to clear the stricken vehicles and this now gave Jordan a golden opportunity to challenge for a podium as he now sat in fourth. However the leading trio made a break on the restart and Jordan now found himself in the clutches of a wealth of Formula Ford experience including Patrick Pasma, Graham Carroll and Chase Owen.
Dempsey was once again showing what a true talent he is as he held the threesome back until lap seven when Pasma eventually found a way past into Clearways. Now it was Chase Owen’s turn to breath down his neck for position. Not afraid to get his elbows out, Dempsey fended off several attempts from the experienced American in a terrific dual for fifth. However coming into Clearways for the final time, Owen had the upper hand to just pip Jordan at the line.
Qualifying just outside the top ten for the Formula Ford Festival final on your debut is something many dream of, but it was what Dempsey had managed to achieve. Despite many agreeing it was mission accomplished for Jordan on his debut at a notoriously difficult event, he was ready for one last push. Getting a great run into the first corner, Jordan remained 11th on the run up to Druids. However now he had Luke Cooper all over his gearbox but a veteran Formula Ford move on the exit left Cooper out on the grass as Jordan set off down the road. From that point on, he would have several race winners breathing down his neck, looking to capitalise on any mistakes from the Formula Ford rookie. Jake Byrne, Joey Foster, Oliver White and USA driver Kyle Kirkwood would all test his talent during the race. With four laps to go, Dempsey was now right on the gearbox of Byrne for ninth coming out of Clearways. Forcing his fellow-Irishman into a mistake, Jordan had to take immediate avoiding action to remain in the race but despite loosing a place to Pedro Matos remained in tenth. With the bit between his teeth to make up the lost ground, Dempsey closed a gap of over a half a second to move back inside the top ten on the final tour taking the chequered flag in ninth.
Jordan Dempsey – #49 Motorsport Ireland & Sport Ireland Van Diemen LA10:
“Well that was one hell of a weekend that’s for sure. Brands is a really enjoyable track with a lovely flow to it. I had no real mishaps over the course of the event and once I learned the place in testing I had good pace throughout. Once again the car was on rails and the engine was really strong. I learned a lot about race craft, some of which I intend to use at the Walter Hayes next week. My competitive nature however has me feeling a little disappointed that I couldn’t have got a better result. As I continue to develop and learn with every lap, Qualifying is definitely an area I will work on to make the most of this brilliant package. Thanks so much to everyone who made this possible, my sponsors from this year who have helped me to get to this point and to Motorsport Ireland, Sport Ireland and Celtic Speed for supporting this programme of events. Bernard and his team did a great job with the car, and certainly made the most of helping me to get up to speed as quickly as possible. Roll on Silverstone!”
Walter Hayes Trophy, Silverstone, Northamptonshire, UK – Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th November 2016.
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