Dan de Zille raced to a competitive top 10 finish during the Final of this year’s Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on Sunday, 16th October – capping off a strong season of action for the 24-year-old from Jersey.
Marking the 40th anniversary of the world’s biggest and most prestigious Formula Ford event, Dan proved he had the pace to run at the very front and although disappointed not to have been in the reckoning for a podium he still ended the festival reasonably satisfied.
Unfortunately, the weekend got off on the wrong footing when a rogue set of tyres appeared to be the only logical cause for lap times a second slower than he’d managed in testing. Therefore Dan was only able to qualify 11th on the grid for the opening Heat – a big problem at the notoriously tight and twisty 1.2-mile Indy Circuit where overtaking is at a premium.
Despite being frustrated to finish 11th, the Mygale driver moved on to the Quarter Final where a rocket-ship start catapulted him into the top six but racing came to a halt soon after due to an incident, undoing Dan’s great work. The action was re-started over four laps but gearbox issues pegged him back into 10th place.
Surely Dan’s fortunes would improve? Well yes, to a certain extent, and especially with a fresh set of tyres as he made his way up from the fifth row of the grid in the Semi Final to post a top seven finish and the fastest lap of the race with a time of 47.496 seconds (90.85mph) – confirming his podium potential all things being equal.
For the all-important Final, Dan had to start in 13th position and although lapping within just 0.2 seconds of the quickest time of the race his position in the mid-order proved costly as he ended up boxed-in behind a trio of slower cars. In the end, he did well to progress into 10th place.
“The weekend did finish on a high but it was a very frustrating and disappointing event for us, we knew we had the pace and we proved it too with the fastest lap in the Semi Final”, said Dan, “We were quick in testing but in qualifying my times were a second off what we’d been doing – it had to be a bad set of tyres.
“On Sunday things were much better but the damage had been done, at a track like Brands Indy if you don’t qualify well you get stuck behind groups of other cars even if you’re quicker. Had things started as they finished, we’d have been in contention for a podium.”
With the weekend’s action putting the lid on Dan’s involvement in Formula Ford, he’s now getting ready for his first Formula Renault 2.0 test which will come this Friday, 21st October, prior to his competitive debut in the ‘Finals Series’ – formerly the Winter Series – on 5th/6th November.