Andrew Horne (Xena Chemicals / Budd Power van Diemen) got his attempt to regain the Investchem Formula Ford Kent Championship off to the ideal start when he won both races at the opening round of the 2018 series at Red Star Raceway on Saturday, 10 March. On both occasions, he was followed over the line by David Jermy (Lime Chilli Consulting van Diemen) with Alex Vos (Ecurie Zoo Swift) and Jeff Gable (Jacquet Racing van Diemen) sharing the third-place finishes.
Horne signalled his intentions in the morning qualifying session, getting quicker with each lap until he broke the 2:06 barrier, putting in a lap of 2:05.936 which was almost 1.4” quicker than Jermy could manage. Youngster Vos was next quickest, just outdoing defending champion Dean Venter (TEU Southern Africa Swift) to take third on the grid. Jeff Gable (Jacquet Racing van Diemen) and Jonathan Nash (Turnfab Engineering Swift) filled the third row of the grid with James Reeves and Paul Gerber rounding out the top eight in their Rays.
Jermy pulled almost alongside Horne when the lights went out to signal the start of the first race, but Horne was just able to hold him off through the first couple of corners and from then on, the former champion was never headed on his way to a comfortable win. Jermy had some early attention from Vos but was able to slowly pull away, ending the race safely in second. Vos ended up in a somewhat lonely third place just over three seconds ahead of Gable in fourth. Nash got the best of the closest on-track battle, taking fifth place just ahead of Gerber and Dean Venter with Allen Meyer (van Diemen) just holding off Reeves to claim eighth and the final championship point.
In the second race, Horne again managed to hold of Jermy through the first couple of corners but Jermy was able to pull out of the slipstream at the end of the long first straight and slide up the inside through turn three. It was not to last, however, as Horne did exactly the same thing just a lap later to regain the lead. Once in front, there was no stopping him and he reeled off a string of quick laps to open up a huge lead, taking the win by almost 10 seconds. Jermy again had an untroubled run to second but the dice of the day developed behind him. Vos, Gable and Venter, with Gerber among them in the early stages, fought it out for the final podium position with things only being settled on the final lap. Vos, who had led the group throughout the race, made a slight mistake on the final lap which was enough for Gable to get through and take third. Venter had to settle for fifth. Gerber just held off Nash to take sixth with Meyer again taking the final championship point for eighth.
Horne’s two comfortable wins gave him the trophy for the day’s overall win with Jermy and Vos filling the minor placings.
The Investchem Formula Ford Kent Championship returns to the track on Saturday, 7 April when the second round of the 2018 series takes place at Zwartkops Raceway, west of Pretoria.