Magnificent Murray sweeps to his second Festival success
Niall Murray dominated the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, winning for the second time in three years and succeeding Ulsterman Wayne Boyd as champion.
In a stunning end to the season, the 21-year-old from Dublin added the prestigious FF1600 Festival crown to the British championship and the Martin Donnelly Trophy at Kirkistown.
Northern Ireland champion in 2014, Murray was in imperious form at Brands Hatch, setting fastest time in qualifying in his Van Diemen, winning his heat and semi-final before leading from start to finish in the final yesterday. Scott Malvern finished second, four seconds behind, with Chris Middlehurst third.
But there was disappointment for many of the other Irish drivers with two past NI champions, Noel Robinson and Jake Byrne, eliminated early in the final. Another early casualty was Alan Davidson, the reigning NI champion, but he had the consolation of winning the historic FF1600 final in his Mondiale.
Meanwhile Boyd was far away in Portugal where he finished second in the final round of the European Le Mans sportscar series on board the United Autosport's LMP3 Ligier-Nissan.
It was Boyd's third podium finish of the season in the Ligier he shares with Mark Patterson and Matt Bell.
He had been quickest in practice and set the second fastest time in qualifying to share the front row of the grid with the other United Autosport Ligier of Alex Brundle. They ran nose to tail for the first hour before Boyd handed over to Patterson and Brundle was replaced by Mike Guasch.
Then Guasch spun and damaged the nose of the car, resulting in two laps lost in the pits, while Patterson was hit with a penalty for speeding in the pit lane, dropping to fifth.
A strong final stint by Bell brought them back to second behind the Ligier of Thomas Laurent, Yann Ehrlacher and Alexandre Cougnaud.