CAMS Rising Star Jack LeBrocq pounced on the final lap to win the first race of this year’s Australian Formula Ford Championship, as rain returned to the 2012 Formula 1 QANTAS Australian Grand Prix.
Albert Park had stayed dry all day after heavy rain overnight and in the morning, and the Formula Ford field lined up on a dry circuit.
Pole-sitter Mathew Hart led the way early, ahead of LeBrocq and Liam Sager, but the Safety Car was called into action on Lap 2, after Tom Goess recovered from a 360 degree spin exiting Turn 11 only to find Ash Quiddington having a moment of his own.
When the race resumed on Lap 5, Sager quickly passed LeBrocq and Hart to move into the lead as the first drops of rain started to fall, only for Sager and Synergy team-mate Sam Power to get caught out at Turn 13 on the very next lap. With Sager dropping to 12th, Hart regained the lead, but LeBrocq came into his element as the elements worsened.
Amid heavy rain on the final lap – with lap times almost 15 seconds down on the best of the race – LeBrocq stalked Hart, before making a race-winning move at Turn 13. Hart and Garry Jacobson completed the top three.
After finishing second in last year’s championship, it was the perfect way to kick off LeBrocq’s title challenge.
“The rain started to come down and it started to play into my hands a bit. I always do well in the wet, I’m pretty confident in it,” LeBrocq said.
“At the restart, when we came onto the front straight, there was rain on my visor for the first time, so I took it a little too cautiously there on those first couple of laps and they got a bit of a gap on me. But as soon as I started to work out where the rain was and got used to it, it was alright.
“Coming out of Turn 10 on the last lap, that’s when we really started to notice how heavy the rain was getting, coming through the long, fast left-hander before the fast left-right. We were skating all over the place – it was interesting! I’d followed Mathew for most of the lap to use him as a reference, but I was able to make the move into Turn 13.
“It’s the best possible way to start the year, we’ll try to repeat that in the next couple of races and see how we go.”
Jonathan Venter finished fourth, ahead of Jake Fouracre, Rhett Noonan, Simon Hodge, Macauley Jones and the recovering Power and Sager. Debutant Scott Andrews claimed the final championship point in 10th. Shae Davies qualified third, but failed to start the race after breaking an input shaft to the gearbox on the warm-up lap.
The Australian Formula Ford Championship returns to the track for Race 2 of its weekend at 11:30am tomorrow.