Today did not go as planned for Team USA Scholarship winner Matthew Brabham and his Cliff Dempsey Racing team. After an excellent run to sixth place yesterday on his European debut at Silverstone, Brabham finished a disappointing 14th in a race that was interrupted by two safety car periods and was televised live on ITV4-HD in the UK.
“Yeah, it was a pretty crazy race,” said Brabham. “I think it was because the red mist fell for the last race of the championship and because it was being televised.”
Brabham lined up 14th on the grid for the 14th and final round of the Formula Renault BARC UK season, due to a less than optimal second period of qualifying on Saturday morning, and then worsened his predicament by not making the best of getaways at the traditional standing start. He completed lap 1 in an unrepresentative 18th and was embroiled in a hectic midfield battle throughout what turned out to be a 21-lap contest.
“The race was pretty exciting,” he said. “I got a bad start and lost a few positions so it was tough to recover. I managed to gain a few positions back before the first Safety Car. My restart was good so I managed to get another position back and then stayed there for most of the race. Right before the end of the race there was another Safety Car and we had a two-lap dash to the finish. Unfortunately, I lost another position on this restart. The racing was definitely tough and I really got to see how these guys race over here. Everyone is so close, so my qualifying position really made it hard for me.”
The race was won by Welshman Seb Morris, who completed a weekend sweep. Englishman Scott Malvern finished a close second to secure the championship crown – his second title in as many years after dominating the 2011 MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain.
Brabham, who recently clinched this year's Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and will graduate to the Star Mazda Championship as part of the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship ladder, will now return to the United States to take part in the Mazda Road to Indy test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on October 10/11. He will then travel back to the UK for the first round of the Formula Renault BARC Winter Series at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit on Oct. 20-21, keen to build upon the experience he gained at Silverstone.
“I'm happy with how the weekend went,” he concluded. “I learned a lot from racing with these guys. It was quite challenging as everyone was so close. My first qualifying and race went really well; it was great to get sixth place for the first race. I struggled a bit in the second qualifying and that hurt me in the second race. I learned so much from this weekend though and really enjoyed it. The team was great and worked extremely hard, and all the people here supporting me were a great help; I can't thank them enough. I head back to Indianapolis for the Star Mazda test there but I can't wait to get back over here for the first race of the Winter Series at the Brands Hatch GP circuit.”