Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Tristan Nunez wheels the No. 22 Cliff Dempsey Racing Team USA Scholarship car around the Indy Circuit at Brands Hatch during the 40th running of the Formula Ford Festival. (photo: Jack Mitchell Photography)

Team USA Scholarship drivers Tristan Nunez and Jack Mitchell Jr. may have done a “rain dance” on Saturday night, with hopes of wet and slippery conditions for Sunday’s final at the 2012 Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch.

The only problem?  The rain just didn’t come.

Both Nunez and Mitchell proved exceptionally quick over the weekend in Kent Class competition, especially in wet conditions where each won their respective quarterfinal on Saturday in cold, rainy weather.

On Sunday, however, the weather was cool but dry, a condition neither driver had much experience with during their week of testing at the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit.

Nunez was up first for his 15-lap semifinal, starting from pole position. As the Florida-native adapted to the tires’ adhesion on a cool, dry surface he was relegated to third. Biding his time, Nunez went on the attack with two laps remaining. On Lap 14, he passed Luke Cooper for second and made an impressive, downhill, two-wheels in the grass pass on Ivor McCullough heading into Graham Hill Bend. The move secured the win and pole position for the final event.

Jack Mitchell Jr. (No. 21) takes away the inside-line during the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch. (photo: Jack Mitchell Photography)

Mitchell Jr., like Nunez, would start his semifinal from pole. During the opening lap, Mitchell was bumped off track in Druid’s Hairpin dropping back to seventh, and later eighth, before recovering to finish sixth. The result placed the Illinois native 12th in the 28-car final (44 cars attempted to qualify for the headline event).

In the final, Nunez was dropped a few spots but remained embroiled in a tight battle with the top-five drivers. Contact with Graham Carroll at the apex of Paddock Hill Bend (reports indicate that Carroll turned in on Nunez) dropped Nunez back to 25th. He would charge back through the pack to 16th before his engine expired with seven laps remaining.

Mitchell, meanwhile, was meticulously working his way forward through the pack from 12th. A multi-car incident would draw the race to an early conclusion halting Mitchell’s aggressive charge. In the end, he improved seven spots to finish fifth overall. McCullough would win the race for the second-consecutive year.

The American duo will now travel to Silverstone for next weekend’s Walter Hayes Trophy, a race regarded by many as the world’s premier Formula Ford event.

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.

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