This year's 21st anniversary Team USA Scholarship drivers Spencer Pigot and Felix Serralles didn't have a lot of luck at this weekend's hotly contested Formula Ford Kent Festival at Brands Hatch, but they did turn plenty of heads with some impressive performances.
Pigot, who celebrated his 17th birthday just a couple of weeks ago, qualified on pole position for his Heat race and ultimately finished a strong fourth in the hotly contested Final, posting fastest lap of the race for good measure.
"It's a bit different over here, that's for sure, with the blocking and the contact, but I liked it, I enjoyed it," said Pigot. "I wish that I could have been a few places higher up, but other than that it was a lot of fun.
Serralles, 18, enjoyed a taste of success by winning the four-lap Last Chance Qualifier before being forced out of the Final after a first-lap incident at Clearways.
The final coup de grace rather summed up Serralles' weekend, which began to unravel on Saturday when he, unfortunately, tangled with Pigot in the Heat race while the two Team USA drivers were running in fourth and fifth. Both cars were out, forcing them to start from the back of the grid in this morning's pair of Semi Final races.
Driving a backup car prepared overnight by Cliff Dempsey Racing, Serralles charged strongly from 23rd to 10th inside just two laps of the first Semi Final, only for his engine to be stricken by a loose plug wire. He fell to 14th by the finish, consigning him to the Last Chance Qualifier race, which he won convincingly after starting fourth.
Semi Final 2 saw Pigot forge his way from 22nd to 11th on the opening lap, then move up to sixth by half-distance in the 15-lap race. Northern Ireland's John Ferguson proved a tougher nut to crack. Ferguson defended staunchly until lap 14, when the battle got more heated and Pigot finally forced his way through. Unfortunately, both protagonists also lost out to two other competitors, although Pigot was able to pass Joshua Barnett on the final lap to claim sixth.
The Final began with Pigot in the 11th grid position and Serralles starting in 25th. Serralles' bad luck continued when he made contact with another car on the opening lap.
"It was just unfortunate," said Serralles, "but at least I got to the Final. That's what I was looking for, and it was cool to win the race, too. The experience has been great; Cliff and the guys have done a great job and so did Spencer. He could have at least been on the podium if not for the red flag. He was driving really well. Overall, it's been a great week."
Pigot, indeed, was the fastest man on the track as he worked his way up to eighth before the Final was red-flagged after eight laps due to a multi-car accident at Paddock Hill Bend.
The youngster from Windermere, Fla., put his head down once more at the restart, charging to fourth by lap 5 in a race that was checkered after just eight more laps – four short of the scheduled distance.
Irish veteran Neville Smyth took the victory, having regained the advantage from countryman Noel Dunne who had jumped him at the start. Dunne finished second, just ahead of Australian Jordan Skinner and a fast-closing Pigot.
"I'm a bit disappointed," said Pigot. "I got fastest lap of the race and was the fastest guy and didn't get on the podium, but I learned a lot and overall it's been a great experience."