Chris Hodgen edges closer to title with thrilling victory
BOLTON racing driver Chris Hodgen is edging closer to the National Formula Ford Championship – with only three races of the competition left.
The 38-year-old arrived at Oulton Park having spent the seven-week summer break rebuilding his race car to maintain its speed and reduce the possibility of mechanical failure.
It was a move that paid off as he dominated the early part of qualifying session with a season best of 1min 50.38secs on the picturesque parkland circuit near Chester.
Having set the super quick time Chris pitted to save tyres while on provisional pole by 0.4 seconds, but was eventually beaten to pole on the last lap by championship rival Jamie Jardine in his Reynard 84, who completed the 2.6-mile circuit in 1:50:26.
Hodgen said: “I took the gamble and pitted to save tyres after I set my fastest lap as I don’t have a big budget for tyres.
“Ultimately I missed out on two points for pole in the championship race, but saving my tyres maybe helped me in the race. I try to look at the positives.”
Hodgen had to chase Jardine hard over the first three laps but on the fourth lap, he made a move and took the lead.
He said: “Once I got past Jamie on the fourth lap, I just told myself to get my head down and make every lap a qualifying lap in the hope of pulling clear.
“But it proved hard as I was very quick through the fast corners, but Jamie would pull the gap back with better traction through the slow corners, so it never gave me any rest whatsoever.
“The pressure from Jamie was building as the race went on and that led to a mistake on the eithth lap when I turned in too early for the very fast Island bend.
“That sent me wide and out of shape for the Shell hairpin.
“Fortunately I managed to stop the car before I went in the gravel.”
For the last three laps the gap stayed pretty constant and Hodgen made a small mistake which allowed Jardine a chance of victory.
But he had to play second fiddle to Hodgen as he crossed for his fourth win of the season and take championship lead.
A delighted Chris said “That was a brilliant race again with Jamie, there wasn’t much between us all weekend and I was ecstatic to take another win and the championship lead.
“Jamie has found some great pace over the summer and is now a real challenger for the championship, so I was really pleased to beat him in a fair battle. I screamed with joy all the way round the slowdown lap!”
The next race meeting will have a big bearing on the overall championship positions as it is a triple header at the new Anglesey International Circuit near Rhosniger on the 27th & 28th September.