Lady luck was paying James Penrose no favours this weekend at the BRSCC Formula Ford Festival, a series of unfortunate incidents hampering his efforts in seeking victory at the prestigious event.
Despite his misfortunes, the Kiwi should be proud of even making the final after a fuel pump failure, oil spill and torrential downpour threatened to derail his campaign from as early as the heats.
In the massive 80 car festival, Penrose was officially classified 20th after the Grand Final this morning. Getting to that point, however, was not made easy, the young Kiwi showing grit and determination to stay alive in proceedings at multiple points.
In typical English fashion, the weather conditions also made it difficult for the field, passing showers creating a slick surface. Every race held had incidents of note because of this, spins, offs and crashes a result of the rain.
Starting on Saturday, Penrose qualified fourth fastest in the Heat 3 field, his time only .157 seconds off top spot in a congested session.
Once the heat got underway, he worked his way forward and even briefly held the lead before a red flag brought proceedings to a halt. The misfortune began here, the car not making it to the restart, a fuel pump failure the problem.
The format of the event meant Penrose got another chance to make the semi-finals through the second of two Progression Races. The top six from each Progression Race would qualify for the next round.
Starting 11th on the grid, the Kiwi worked his way forward to finish on the podium in third place and qualify for the semis.
Because of the way he qualified for the race, he started towards the rear of the field, in 27th of the 30 car field.
Once again he started strongly and was sitting 20th by the end of Lap 2 in Semi-Final 2. The charge continued as Penrose picked off two more competitors until a Lap 6 Safety Car was required to remove a stricken vehicle. With eight laps remaining, the Kiwi needed to pick off 6 more competitors to finish in the top 12 and receive automatic qualification for the final.
Once proceedings resumed, Penrose climbed up to 15th, falling just three places short of automatic qualification for the final.
He did, however, get one last chance in the appropriately dubbed “Last Chance Race”. The top six from this race would qualify for the final, albeit at the back of the grid.
The Historics final, which took place before the Last Chance Race, saw a competitor leave a large amount of oil across the circuit, creating a slick surface as the race got underway.
Penrose started in sixth for the race, the high grid position a result of his semi-final charge. There was chaos immediately in the race, several cars, including Penrose, running wide and into the Turn 1 gravel. The Kiwi was one of the lucky ones and able to resume, a red flag his saving grace which saw a full race restart.
With just five laps to run to establish a top six, Penrose immediately lost a spot to drop to seventh before regaining sixth, and then taking fifth, on Lap 3.
More drama for a crashed car saw yet another red flag, the race called with Penrose in fifth place and qualifying for the final.
The Sunday evening final got underway with Penrose starting 29th in the 30 car field, the conditions dramatically changing as the race began. The team had the foresight to run on a full-wet setup which paid dividends as he worked his way forward.
Unfortunately the conditions deteriorated to a point where racing wasn’t possible, Penrose in 22nd at this point in time. The red flag came out and the race was called with just 2 laps completed.
Once penalties had been applied to drivers ahead, for incidents he was classified 20th overall in the 80 car event.
Penrose will go again at the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone over the weekend of 5-6 November, his efforts this weekend proving he has the pace to compete with the best.
Header Image: James Penrose Motorsport