Tom Sargent takes weekend victory in hard-fought Formula Ford opening round
The Australian Formula Ford series opened this weekend at Sydney Motorsports Park, as part of the NSW Motor Race Championship. Twenty-six cars entered the event, which marks the start of the 50th year of Formula Ford racing in Australia.
Tom Sargent took the round win on 53 points, with Callum Hedge in second on 48, and Zac Soutar in third on 39 points after a post-race penalty in race three.
Sargent reflected on his points haul for the weekend:
It was a really good round for us, we had car pace from the start and everything just went in our favour. We had a bit of bad luck at the start of the weekend, but we recovered… It’s a bit surreal at the moment, I’m sure it’ll sink in, being up with some of the best in Australia, to have won National races, so it’s good to be up there and contending with them.
Hedge was confident, and looked ahead to capitalising on his form in the next round:
Ultimately, we want to win the next round, we’re third* this round, good haul of points, but we’ll try and go two* better next time.
*Callum gave his comments before Zac Soutar’s penalty brought him up to second
Tom Sargent put his CHE Racing Mygale on pole for race one with a time of 1:35.6661 in Saturday’s early qualifying session, with Zac Soutar and Callum Hedges close behind on 1:35.8034 and 1:35.8801 respectively.
Sargent stormed ahead at the start of race one, with Soutar chasing close behind as the lead pair drew away from the pack. Cody Donald lead a six car battle for third, which drew the crowd’s attention as Sargent and Soutar pulled off into the distance.
Rising star Jay Hanson overtook Cody Donald on lap 2, with the chasing pack of Jake Donaldson, Callum Hedge, Lachlan Mineeff, and Liam McLellan all eagerly looking on for the final podium position.
It ended in tears on lap 7, with the group coming together, and Mineeff, Donaldson, and Donald fell through the field. Donald retired to pit lane, while Mineeff was awarded a 30 second penalty.
Sargent looked set to win in front of Soutar, but a finish-line “brain-fade” saw Sargent slow to allow lapped traffic to pass, dropping him to second
Jason Liddell’s Swift gave up on the way to the grid on Sunday morning, leading to a delayed start as his car was cleared from the track.
The scheduled 18-minute race became an 8-minute sprint, with Soutar taking the lead on lap 2 and threatening to storm away with the race win.
Sargent refused to relinquish the lead, and fought his way back to P1 by the end of lap three, as the two squabbled lap-after-lap.
The dispute saw the chasing pack catch up to the leaders, with a pack of eight, sometimes nine, cars separated by less than 2 seconds.
Sargent kept pushing, and pulled a 1-second lead on the final lap to guarantee his victory.
Tom Sargent and Zac Soutar squared off from the front row of the grid, with Soutar gaining the lead by the first corner. The race was on from lap one, with seven cars contesting the lead pack, and by the end of the lap Sargent and Callum Hedge were fighting Soutar for the lead.
Sargent took the lead, and Hedge took second from Soutar, as the Victorian dropped from first to third. Hedge stuck with Sargent and applied consistent pressure, taking the lead at the end of the main straight to start lap four.
The three cars battled away until lap seven, when the battle between Soutar and Sargent gave Hedge the breathing room to pull slightly away from the previous race winners. The slowing pair were joined by Angelo Mouzouris, who did well to hold on to the lead pack.
Hedge slowed at the start of lap eight, and Sargent pulled close as the lead pack approached lapped traffic.
Sargent pulled close to Hedge, moving to overtake him as they crossed the finish line, but it was ultimately Hedge who took the race win, making it three wins for three drivers in the first round of the National Championship.
Soutar, Cody Burcher, and Tim Hamilton were all pulled up by the scrutineers at the end of race three, and received 30-second penalties for having inadequate personal equipment.
Soutar’s penalty pulled Mouzouris up into third, and brought Callum Hedge up into second place in the championship, which will head to Queensland Raceway for the first weekend in May.