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Stars set for Formula Ford Festival at Brands this weekend

Sunday, October 18 2015

The world-famous Formula Ford Festival returns to the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit this weekend (24-25 October) with a strong entry list packed with former winners taking to the track in an exciting knockout format, with heats, semi-finals, and a final on Sunday. Star names such as former Grand Prix drivers Martin Donnelly and Tiff Needell will also compete in a special Masters race for returning veterans.

Formula Ford began in the late 1960s and for 40 years was the first rung on the racing ladder that helped aspiring karting stars reach their Formula One goal. With individual championships across the globe, the Formula Ford Festival, which was first staged at Brands Hatch in 1976, provided an opportunity for drivers to compare themselves on an international level. An extraordinary winners' list includes big name stars such as 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button, fomer F1 star and current World Endurance Championship title leader Mark Webber, and this year's Le Mans 24-Hour race winner, Nick Tandy.

TiffThe Festival has reinvented itself in recent years as a popular event for cars powered by the Kent engine used in the class until the early 1990s, which could also be found in Ford Escorts and Cortinas of the 60s and 70s. The cars are devoid of advanced aerodynamic aids or slick tyres, which results in close and competitive racing. Such is the event's enduring appeal, that a number of winners from recent years, including Wayne Boyd, Joey Foster, Niall Murray, and reigning champion James Raven have all entered this year's event.

All of the Festival entrants will have to make their way through a tense knockout tournament if they are to qualify for the final for a chance to stand atop the podium. As a result, spectators should expect plenty of action in the closing laps as the drivers on the fringes of qualification desperately do everything they can to make the cut.

DonnellyIn addition to the main Festival, there will be a final for classic cars from the early years of the formula, and a Masters race, which is open to anybody who competed in the Festival during the Kent-engined era. Former Lotus F1 racer Martin Donnelly heads up an impressive entry, whilst fellow F1 driver and TV star Tiff Needell lines up in the Lotus 69 he first raced in the 1970s after winning a competition in Autosport magazine. Notable others include one-time British Touring Car Championship racer Andy Middlehurst and renowned former Formula Ford team owner John Village.

Donnelly said: "I first heard about a proposed Masters Race back in the early months of this summer. All I can hope is to lose a few more pounds in weight and try to give the older and young competitors a good run for their money on the day. I'd like to say a big thank you to [former Formula Ford racer and team owner] Jay Bridger and his team in giving me this great opportunity to roll back the years to where it all started 34 years ago."

Donnelly and Middlehurst will be keeping a keen eye on proceedings in the main Festival too, as their sons, Stefan and Chris, are both competing!

There's much more to enjoy on the programme, plenty of which is Ford-themed, including the Jam-Sport Fiesta Championship, BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship, and Irish Fiesta Trophy. The line-up is completed by a trio of classes for Ford-engined Sports 2000 Le Mans-style racing prototypes.

Spectators can take a closer look at the cars in what is expected to be a very busy open paddock, where there will also be opportunities to meet the teams and drivers as they prepare for action.

Tickets for the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch are available on the gate for £14 each day with free entry for under-13s. For more information, please call 0843 453 9000 or click here.