Formula 1600 Ontario Series Champion Ben Hurst of Oakville Ontario returned to the track last weekend as a part of the Team Canada Scholarship Program where he took place in the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch in England.
This was Hurst’s second time attending the Formula Ford Festival (the first time he was a spectator) and his second time driving on the legendary track having done a test session on the track last spring with Cliff Dempsey Racing.
As a part of the Team Canada Scholarship, a number of test days were involved and the first test day was a raining one featuring wet driving conditions, not the easiest conditions to learn a track in. Nevertheless, Hurst took the day to learn the limits of the car and the track as well as practicing standing starts (a totally new skill for him).
“We had a great test day. The day started off wet but we managed to get one dry session in before the end of the day. Overall, it was a great day full of a lot of learning.”
The second test day was also wet, to begin with, but dried throughout the day with a few glimpses of the sun towards the end of the day. The second day was full of more preparations for qualifying to come the following day.
Hurst was in heat 1 for the Saturday qualifying session which featured difficult driving conditions thanks to a drying track. Despite the tricky conditions Hurst managed to get in a good lap towards the end of the session qualifying him in P6 for his first race to take place later that afternoon.
“The track started out wet but dried so quickly that each lap was faster than the one before.”
Saturday afternoon saw the first heat race of the weekend take place, a crucially important race thanks to the huge turnout of racers (75 entries) only the top nine cars to finish the race would advance. The weather made things difficult again as it had throughout the weekend with heavy rain, a glimpse of sun and more heavy rain as the cars sat on the grid. However, Hurst made a solid run finishing safely inside the top nine in P6.
With the top twenty cars from the heats making up the two semi finals, Hurst had some breathing room going into the semis with the top twelve cars from each semi going on to the finals. For the semis, Hurst was in group two starting in P9. A solid performance saw Hurst cross the line in P11 safely into the final the following day.
Combining the winners of the various heats Hurst took the start of the final in P21 out of 30 cars. Despite a strong start, an incident out of his control on lap two saw a car four places ahead of Hurst spin and with nowhere to go Hurst collided with the spinning car ending his race. Just one of those things that all racers know can happen.
Overall, it was a terrific experience for Hurst despite the disappointing end. Having made it to the final in the largest field in several years it’s something to be proud of especially as the only Canadian in the field and Hurst couldn’t have done it without all the support at home, on social media and in the stands.
Hurst wishes to thank Brian Graham and Kelly Clare, the Cliff Dempsey Racing Team, Braidan Motorsport, Antara Marketing, Adidas Motorsport, Form and Function Fitness and all the Team Canada Sponsors; it really wouldn’t have been possible without all the generous support.
Hurst is the Toyo Tires Formula 1600 Championship Rookie of the Year from 2015, BARC’s Best New Driver of 2015, a Team Canada Scholarship 2016 nominee and a member of Pinty’s National Hot List of Drivers to watch in 2017, the Toyo Tires F1600 Ontario Series Champion and recipient of the Team Canada Scholarship 2017. Hurst is proud to represent Form and Function Fitness Centre, Antara Marketing and Braidan Tire.
About TEAM CANADA SCHOLARSHIP: The TCS is completely funded by sponsors and donations and would not be possible without the partners who support the program. We are pleased to welcome back many supporters and also proud to welcome a few new partners for 2017. Many thanks go to Hallman Construction, Rod Ends Mechanical, TM Motorsports, Calabogie Motorsports Park, De Angelis Construction, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, The Toyo Tires F1600 Championship and the OFFC, Formula Tour 1600 Series, Brian Graham Racing, Bollenbach Insurance Brokers, Braidan Motorsport, BARC-OC, Antara Marketing International, and CMV Monoplaces Inc.