Jake Craig and Team USA Scholarship teammate Colin Mullan finalize preparations for this weekend’s Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch:
Tuesday we were off to Brands Hatch. When we first arrived in the paddock I wasn’t expecting the track to have as much elevation as it did – the videos didn’t do any justice for it! After walking around the paddock for a bit my Canadian family arrived: Brian and Kelly Graham! I’ve been racing for them in this year’s Toyo Tires Canadian F1600 Series, so it was great to catch up with them again. They’re here because they’re running a Canadian Scholarship driver, Guillaume Archembault, also under the Cliff Dempsey banner.
First thing on our agenda Wednesday morning was a debrief with our coach James Theodore. We went over onboard video from previous years to learn the gears and a few braking references on the track. I had a little heads-up on this track, because I was able to do a training session with Kelly Jones from RaceCratf1 back on the sim at home. Kelly’s training really helped me feel prepared before I had my first session on track.
Practice 1 went really well — Colin and I both had great pace. Corner 1 (Paddock Hill Bend) took a few laps to get down, because of the big elevation drop. the “S” section (Surtees) at the end of the track took me a few laps to find a good rhythm as well.
After first practice, clouds started to roll in and then it quickly turned into a wet track. The conditions were very difficult, because there was a heavy mist for the remainder of the day. It made the track feel very greasy so the cars were moving around quite a bit. I had decent pace in the next two practice sessions, although towards the end of the third session I was a little too late on the brakes into Corner 1 and ended up in the gravel trap, but hey, you need to test the limits! Unfortunately, that ended my day a bit early, because the team had a lot of gravel to clean out of the car before I could get back on track. It was nice to watch practice four from the stands; I felt like I learned a lot watching from a different perspective.
It was nice walking out of the hotel next morning and seeing the sun out, as I was excited to get more laps on the track in the dry. Practice 1 went really well as I was right on pace, but in the next two sessions the track conditions changed and I began to struggle with the balance of the car. After going over data before Session 4 I had a good idea of what I needed to work on with my driving to help get the balance better. I felt I definitely made a gain in the last practice, which I’m happy about.
After our practice concluded myself and my teammates went over data and onboard video extensively with James. I have a good idea of what I need to work on going into tomorrow. I’m excited to get back on track in the morning and keep grinding some time away!
As always, thank you to the Team USA Scholarship for making this all possible and the entire Cliff Dempsey Racing Team.